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Anecdotes

Shankar and Millie

Shankar was nothing if not meticulous. He did everything in an orderly fashion and the one bedroom, sparkly clean apartment of his was a standing proof of it. There was never a thing out of its place with clothes hanging in a row in the compact wardrobe; handkerchiefs, vest and underpants folded in a symmetrical pattern and arranged in respective drawers. One would never find a coffee stain on the table, the floors were shiny and not a speck of dust could meet any fingertips. All this managed by the man alone with no woman in his life, not even a domestic help.

Shankar himself was a vision for sore eyes – his hair never out of place and the clothes were perpetually wrinkle free as if no one existed within it; his car sparkled even on the dusty roads. In a world of mess and chaos, Shankar was laughed at and looked down upon. People called him a simpleton.

“Shankar, look your shirt button popped out”, they would tease him.

“There is tea stain on your desk”, they would bother him

“Hey Shankar boy”, they would walk over and ruffle his hair.
Continue reading “Shankar and Millie”
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The Girl In The Green Dress


You know what’s worse than breaking up with a boyfriend of two years? Breaking up just a week before Valentine’s Day!The breakup didn’t come as a surprise to Natasha, but she wasn’t prepared for it either. The couple had been having arguments and disagreements for quite some time now. Each passing day the “I Love You’s” were getting occasional and the “I told you so” more frequent.

Continue reading “The Girl In The Green Dress”

A Short Walk

Sometime we travel all around the world but a little distance to a place in the memory is hard to travel to. Our inner fears, inhibitions and hesitations are so strong that it is not easy to breakthrough them. A traveller’s story of his fears to travel back to his alma-mater.

Continue reading “A Short Walk”

The Rudraksha From Nepal


The Rudraksha bead bought by Dr.Haldar in Nepal 
At times, life presents strange and mysterious coincidences that often leave you wondering and sometimes leave you with goosebumps. The Rudraksha from Nepal and the lives of people around it is one such story. 

It was the month of September 2013. India as a country and the state of Bengal in particular was busy celebrating the homecoming of Goddess Durga, the Durga Puja festival. We (my wife and I) were part of a group of 52 people, of different ages visiting Nepal on a trip during that festive season. Nepal is India’s neighboring country and shares common cultures and traditions. It is a small country dotted with many auspicious temples, old wooden palaces of king’s and princes and has breathtaking views of the Himalayas. Indian currency is well accepted in Nepal, making it a favorite vacation destination for many.

One morning during the trip, we visited a Vishnu temple where the lord Vishnu was laying on water.  n the temple complex I discovered a few “Rudraksha” trees laden with bunches of green fruits and started taking photographs. After a while, my wife, came and told that me that a mysterious looking person offered her a variety of Rudraksha beads at a very modest price. As I am often interested in collecting such local artifacts during our travels, she wanted me to see them. We looked all over the temple but the person selling the Rudraksha beads seemed to have vanished. 



I eventually bought a string of tiny Rudraksha beads from the hotel counter and forgot about the man selling the beads at the temple.

On the very last day I was feeling very disappointed as we missed the beautiful sunrise at Pokhara due to heavy rain. A young software engineer who was traveling with his parents and uncle had managed to see the sunrise. He took my e-mail address and promised to upload all the sunrise pictures on his return to Kolkata.

He never emailed me. I reminded him after a month. He then told me that an unknown car had hit his uncle, Mr Sen, in front of his house just after their return to Kolkata. Mr. Sen was also a part of our tour group. The bleeding was so profuse that he struggled for three weeks on a ventilator, but finally succumbed to his injuries. I consoled the young man but something else was waiting for me.

After a couple of days, I was traveling by the metro to Presidency University. Someone came and sat down next to me. 

He said, “Are you Dr Haldar who had gone on the Nepal trip?”. 

“Yes”, I replied. 

“Do you remember the two widowed sisters who were on the same Nepal trip?” 

“Yes”, I replied. 

I was caught by surprise by this question. I had no recollection of meeting this young man on the trip and here he was aware of little details from the trip. 

“They got hit by unknown cars in front of their house in an interval of 3-4 days and expired,” he continued. 

I mentioned to him that the same thing had happened to Mr Sen also.  

He said, “Do you know that all three of them had purchased Rudraksha beads from a mysterious looking person at the Vishnu temple in my presence.” 

The same Rudraksha that my wife and were not able to buy on that day of the temple visit. The mystery had further deepened. Coincidence or not ? How do you explain that. I will perhaps never know the answer.  

  

Authored By :  Dr.Swapan Haldar.  This is a true incident from his own life. Dr.Haldar is a professor at Presidency University and Calcutta University and author of many books on Mining and Geology. But he is also a passionate story teller and believes in sharing his life experiences. He has his own share of unique experiences. 

Finding A Lost Friend In The Age And Times Of Social Media



I am one of those who has lived substantial years of my life before 2000s.  We weren’t clearly the generation born with the world on our fingertips and phones in our hands. Hand written letters, trunk calls and telephone booths were how communication worked.


Meeting in person or sending letters if not in the same physical location were the common means of saying hello as opposed to texting and even calling each other by phone was a rarity. During that pre-cell phone era of my school, I had a good friend. Someone who would qualify to be a BFF in my 10 year old daughter’s language today.

We were in the high school together for two years and then she left for a different school. Initially we kept in touch. We wrote letters to each other and called each other few times a year. I would give ourselves credit for keeping in touch off and on till about the time we graduated college. We even managed to meet in person while staying in different cities. And then quite unintentionally we fell off each other’s radar for several years. No letters, no phone calls, no news and no clues where we were, our connection was lost.

It is almost unthinkable in this era of Whatsapp, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook but such things happened very often back then. It was not as easy as typing someone’s name on Google and finding them in the vastness of this world.

To wonder is what we do when we are not connected. We remember the person among the hustles and bustles of our own life And if you have wish and will, you find ways to make and keep friendships in your lives.  

By the year 2009, Facebook had made its way into our lives. I was still getting used to it when one day a Facebook message popped on my screen.

“Hope you still remember me. Will wait to hear from you. Wanted to add you to my Facebook.”

I was then, as I admit now, “social networking delayed” and responded to the message if you will fast forward to 2011, exactly two years later. Yes for some odd reason, it took me two years to respond to her. It actually took me two years to get used to social media.

Being friends in a funny way is like cycling or swimming, you never forget being friends. We connected over FB and then picked up the phone. 15 years later and 2800 miles apart, there was still no gap.  We did not pick up from where we left. We did not catch up on the long lost years either. We just fitted our friendship into the context of our current lines seamlessly. 

This summer, we covered the distances in years and miles. Much awaited and yet I would say there was bit of anxiety. We were going to meet not just as friends but along with our families.  The men whom we had fallen for and married, the children we had bore. We were not little schoolgirls any more. We had assumed many other roles in life.

Thankfully we really did not change too much, still quite crazy as we were always. It was just like someone had used a clear tape to paste the life before and after so many years as far as our friendship goes.

Our kids were surprised at the 15 years gone missing in our years of friendship, a concept too alien to them. They heard our stories with reference to the “Walkmans” and “Cassette Players” with wide eyes and amusement. The fact that their mothers did not have any digital pictures from their school days made them giggle. Sitting with them and talking about our old life was wonderful yet we felt like cavemen at times.

Our spouses connected too and found something of a common interest. We were happy to lose them to that. The kids played together and found their own things to do. Everyone just fitted in as if we had all known each other all our lives. The house was enveloped in chatter, laughter, happy noises, late nights, good food and overwhelming portions of love and affection. It was like early Christmas with family.

Coincidentally, Facebook reminded me on the last day of my stay with my friend that it was Friendship day. Yes, it was social media again. Nothing of this sort existed in our old days. Every day was pretty much a friendship day.

Still we felt it a wonderful coincidence. I could wish my long lost friend in person and not through a letter, a message, a text, phone or even Facebook. So like old times we gave each other a hug and a silent ‘Thank you’ to the revolution called “Social Media”. It certainly has its own perks.

Picture: Google Images

The Lost and Found Case Of Mr. Pinocchio



On a beautiful cobbled street, in Old Town Prague, sat Mr. Pinocchio smiling at the passerby tourists and shoppers. The sun was extremely harsh and strong and scorching our backs.There was a little shade by the window where Mr. Pinocchio sat. So we took a break from walking and sat there by his window. 

He looked at us and we looked at him. Such warmth and life in him and he seemed exceptionally happy. After a while, we headed to where we were meant to go. 

But there was something very special about Prague(we fell in love with the city) and Mr.Pinocchio. For as many times we crossed that street by the Old Town Clock, he smiled gleefully at us. He stayed in our mind all throughout the stay in Prague. The day we were leaving Prague, we decided we cannot leave without him. We could not bring Prague home with us but we could absolutely bring Mr.Pinocchio home with us. 


Mr.Pinocchio’s old home was on this lane in Old Town Prague

So we rushed to Mr.Pinocchio’s old home, got him all wrapped up and brought him along with us to our next stop in the tour.  Mr.Pinocchio of course did not need a rail ticket or a passport or any kind of visa. He just needed a lot of space in our bag. So we swaddled him like a baby (quite literally) and made space for him in one of the bags

And he arrived with us at our next stop, Vienna, the music capital of the world. 

At Vienna, we felt living in a bag could be really uncomfortable for anyone, specially when the mercury was soaring to about 35 C. So we got Mr.Pinocchio out of the bag and gave him a nice cool spot in the roomy closet of our hotel room. The husband moved him around in the closet to give him an even more comfortable spot. In a few days, we moved again to Salzburg. Remember Love Locks ? It was only while unpacking in Salzburg, we realized we had left Mr.Pinocchio in Wien. A sudden sadness enveloped suddenly. 

Amidst the “who packed”, “who checked the closet”, “how could we” and clothes turned upside down on the bed of a hotel room, the husband and I called the Hotel in Vienna. The connection wasn’t the greatest and the receptionist on the other end had little patience. 

“A puppet. A marionette. It must be in the closet. It’s in a white bubble pack. 2 feet long.It’s a Pinocchio. Room-216. Please check for us,” we must have repeated this twenty times over on a poor phone connection. 

The response back was plain and cold. “Sorry, we found nothing in the room.” 

A Bird’s eye view of the city of Salzburg. 
We were immensely disheartened. But what more could we do. We spent the day in the charming city of Salzburg, heard great music on the street (it is Mozart’s birthplace after all), had the best Italian food of our life and retired for the day. But not before sending one last email to the hotel. I think the good food did the trick. Mr.Pinocchio was hovering our minds as well. The husband coaxed me into writing and I wrote a nice email overusing “Please” to the hotel without putting up my hopes too much. 

The next morning, a surprise reply came back from the hotel. 

Dear Ms.Mukherjee, 

We found the marionette in your room. Please let us know where we could ship this to you.

Hotel Z 

We did a little dance, sent out our address and arranged for the logistics.The kids jumped on the bed of sheer joy. It was now a matter of days that Mr.Pinocchio would be home with us. We reached home and a few days later, Mr.Pinocchio was finally delivered at our doorstep too. We opened the box, unwrapped the package and there he was smiling ear to ear as he looked at us. “I am finally home.” 

We told you how we found Mr. Pinocchio. But how did we lose him in the first place ? 
I am always the last one to inspect the room for any personal belongings before we check out of a hotel room. It is my job. I like to do that and invariably find something important. That one final check before the keys are turned in.  But I missed Mr.Pinocchio. The answer came in through a seemingly important question the husband asked me the night Mr.Pinocchio arrived home. 

“Didn’t you check the top rack of the closet when you last checked the room in Wien?” , he asked. 
“What top rack are you talking about ?” 
“The topmost one above the safe in the closet. I had put Mr.Pinocchio there.” 
“Oh!” 
“Yes. I thought he would be safe there. What do you mean by Oh! ?” 

From where we stand, my husband and I both see things differently. Very differently unless there is a step stool available for my perusal. He most often forgets the simple fact that visibility is directly proportionate to one’s stature and ours is almost a feet apart.

Pictures and Story By : Piya Mukherjee Kalra  

Aabha


Can a boy and a girl be friends ? BFF’s ?  Just friends ?  May be. Or may be not. 

I have a man in my life – a man about whom I rarely speak of, but he is never away from my thoughts. A man who isn’t part of my social world, but my existence is incomplete without him. A man I have known for thirty-eight years of my life, but even today I can’t explain to anyone what he really means to me. That man is Aabha!
I have vivid memories of the day I first met Aabha. It was the summer of 1972. I was twelve years old. He was twenty-two.

Continue reading “Aabha”

Love Locks

I have just returned from touring central Europe for a fortnight with the family. Everyone amongst the friends and family have asked that I blog about our travel stories. I will, I promise. But there are these bunch of mini stories that happened during the travel that I feel like writing about first. 

Many of my posts have involved events and conversations between me and my daughter. As she is growing up, our conversations are becoming more intense and interesting at the same time. One such heart to heart happened during the trip. 

Love locks, as they are called, are very famous in many parts of Europe. People put locks on fences, bridges, gates and such, as the symbol of their love and affection. The key is thrown into the river, once the lock is locked. The locks have names inscribed on them or a message or a promise. At Salzburg, Austria, on the Makartsteg bridge, we walked past thousands of love locks. I noticed it was not just lovers leaving a symbol behind. There were inscribed messages left for someone’s children and someone’s siblings. Those ones were of course much lesser in count and understandably so. 

Love Locks on a bridge at Salzburg, Austria 
As my daughter and I walked on that bridge, she asked me the purpose of the locks. I explained to her that it is a symbol for someone you love, a promise or even a wish you want to make for a loved one. The last part I made up (it is called the creative side of parenting). Padlocks as symbol of love could be tough to comprehend for a seven year old. 

“A Wish ! “, she exhaled a deep breath saying that. 

“Yes, like you could wish for a new mom and see if that happens”, I said jokingly. It is an old thing between us. Whenever she is mad at me, she always say she does not like me anymore and I then tell her to go fetch a new mom. Hours later we laugh about it, together. 

“Where is the key for the lock ?“, she asked rather seriously.

“In the river”, I said.

“Oh! So people don’t come back to open these locks?”, she asked. She is at that age where questions are just endless. They never cease.  

“You mean when the wish comes true ? I don’t think they open the locks. Are you that serious about your wish for a new mom?”, I asked. I was pretty amused by now. 

“I never said that. You always just think so. I don’t want a new mom.”, she said audibly. I could people glancing at us or perhaps even eavesdropping at some of this conversation. 

“So what do you really want ? What do you want to wish for?”, I was curious now. 

“I just wish you were not so strict at times. I wish you did not get so mad at me, ever.” 

I stopped where I was. No, I did not exactly freeze or get surprised at all. I know what she meant. I know it even without her telling me that. I just did not see it coming this way. If you are a parent you know exactly what I mean. 

How I wish I never lose my cool while being a mom! How I wish I never flare up and say things that I know I never should. How I wish I am as much of a cool parent as my husband is (this is relative) ! How I wish I was not always telling my children the right from the wrong. How I wish I could just have just pure fun with them at ALL times. How I wish I was a little more patient and little less tired most of the times ! How I wish I did not become the person that I momentarily become while discipling them! How I wish I somehow tell them I do all of that because I love them dearly! Love them more than anything else.  

The Charming City Of Salzburg, Mozart’s Birthplace, The land of “Sound of Music” 
These fleeting thoughts surrounded me at that moment with an overwhelming amount of guilt on the bridge that day. As I stood with my daughter on the bridge, soaking in the views of the charming city of Salzburg, I secretly thought  – Wish there was a bridge where parents like me could lock all such feelings like their stress, fatigue, impatience, the flare-ups and throw the key away. 

What a bliss that would be ! 

Pictures and Story By : Piya Mukherjee Kalra 

#Salzburg, #Travel, #LoveLocks

Cup and Cookies….Made For Each Other



Cup: Hey Cookie, want to go out for a dance?
Cookie: What’s on your mind, Mr. Cup?
Cup: C’mon, I was just bored enough to ask you. I don’t think we are perfect for each other.
Cookie: Yeah, perfect with each other sounds more like, Cup and Tea, or Cup and Coffee, or Coffee and Cookies, or even Cookies and Chocolate.
Cup: Oh! You are not with chocolate always. You are sweet coconut sometimes and a bitter chocolate some of the other times.
Cookie: You come in different colors and shapes.
Cup: You too come in so many shapes.
Cookie: Your shapes are an art; mine just a way to attract.
Cup: But isn’t attracting someone enough to look, touch, and taste an art too?
Cookie: Maybe… maybe not…
Cup: I can smell you each time life’s hand picks you, dips you in that brown liquid of my heart, and fulfills someone’s love for you. And you smell wonderful.
Cookie: I can feel your color merging with my chocolate each time I enter your heart. And you fill my heart with a longing with red color, a hope with green, and happiness with yellow.
Cup: I know you leave a little of yourself in the brown liquid for me to taste.
Cookie: I know you love the taste of bitter chocolate the most.
Cup: I love all the tastes you bring.
Cookie: And I love all the colors with which you paint my heart.
Cup: Watch out for that chipped corner. It might nip your heart.
Cookie: I have been nipped so many times already and I still go that way.
Cup (laughs): Oh man! You must be really sad.
Cookie: Why do you say that?
Cup: Who else would still go the same way after being nipped once?
Cookie (laughs): Oh man! You must be really sad.
Cup: Why do you say that?
Cookie: Don’t you know? The chipped corner shows the beautiful white you are hiding inside. It nips, it pains. But it brings out my beautiful white to merge with yours.
Cup: You just made my chipped corner beautiful.
Cookie: Like you always add color to my taste and smell.
Cup: But without a brown liquid we never come together.
Cookie (sad): That’s the only life we hold together.
Cup: No, the life that holds you, the same life keeps my heart alive.
P:S: I have a crazy fascination for cups and cookies. Every time I go for my tea or coffee, I love my cup and my cookies a little more. Sometimes I go window-shopping only for cups. And two days ago, I went out to buy cookies in stormy rain to stock my kitchen. I thought I was addicted to the two but I eavesdropped on this conversation to find that it wasn’t just me!

Written by : Shweta Rawal. A Management Consultant by profession, she lives at a lot of places but her true home are books, her blog, and wherever there is coffee, oranges and ice cream (not necessarily in the same cup). She dreams of owning wood, brick and mortar structures next to a river or sea, where she could drown forever in words with another living being , but is still not sure if that living being is a man, a dog, a cat, or a tree.

You can find her on – https://homeofanomad.wordpress.com/

Picture By : Soumi Haldar 

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