Celebration


“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

Celebration, Festival, Food

Republic Day 2015 in Baghdad


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India celebrates January 26th every year as her Republic Day to mark the date when the Constitution of India came into force. The constitution was adopted on January 26th, 1950 with a democratic government system. It was this day in 1930 when the Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress.

The Indian embassy in Baghdad organizes the flag hoisting ceremony on the morning at the embassy residence and a reception in the afternoon. I received emailed invitation to attend the ceremony and reception a week ago. The Indian embassy and the residence are in our neighbourhood. I walked from my office to the embassy residence for the Flag hoisting ceremony scheduled at 8:30 am.

Today is the 66th Republic Day of India. The Flag hoisting ceremony started with hoisting of  the Indian flag by Ambassador H.E. Ajay Kumar followed by singing of national anthem by all the Indians present there. There is a very small Indian community in Baghdad. Most of the Indians in Iraq are in Kurdistan region. 

Flag hoisting at Indian Embassy in Baghdad on Republic Day. #26January

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

It was then followed by reading of the President’s message to the Nation by the Ambassador. The printed message of the President to the Nation was also given to the attendees. The embassy arranges for breakfast for the guests of the ceremony. They served us nice hot pakoras, falafel and tea. We had some small chat with Ambassador Ajay Kumar, HOC DV Singh and others and then I returned to my office. 

With Indian Ambassador and HOC at Embassy residence in Baghdad after flag hoisting on #26January

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

This time the reception is scheduled at 5:30 pm. For last several years the reception was from 3.00 pm. I went to the embassy residence at 5:20 pm for the reception. The reception was attended by dignitaries from other embassies, Iraqi political establishments and a tiny cross-section of the local Indian community in Baghdad. National anthem was played. Speeches were delivered on India-Iraq relationships. The function ended with Indian dinner that included Chicken Butter Masala, Chicken tikka, Paneer, Dal, Pulao & Paratha besides other side dishes. The meal was supplied by a restaurant run by our friend Vivekanand inside International Zone.  We also had a nice chat with our friend Akhtar as he was waiting for his car to arrive. Akhtar is a frequent visitor to Baghdad as he is running a business here.

I walked back to my home in the evening. It’s a very sad evening for me as it was this evening ten years ago when my mother left us for her eternal abode. We were then staying in Jamshedpur as I was then posted there. I miss you, Maa!

I wish Happy Republic Day to all my fellow Indians. Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!

Celebration, Food, Friends

It’s A Nice Afternoon — Last Of 2014


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Jaya and Babai were urging me since yesterday that I must celebrate the beginning of the new year. I earlier planned to welcome the new year in solitude, staying in at my home.

In the morning Subhash informed me that he has arranged for a Masgouf lunch at Iraqi Hunting Club along with his department colleague Nadia. He said that only we four people will be there — three from his department including him plus me.

Today being the year-end, I was busy in my department to ensure that the deals are complete, accruals are properly assessed and booked, and securities are marked to market, etc. Anyway, as I finished, we rushed to the club. Nadia & Russel were already there waiting for us. By the time we reached there, the fish was ready to be served.

We enjoyed the fish along with khubuz and fried rice. We had nice chat over our lunch. The lunch was followed by tea. In Iraq, no meal is complete without tea. Tea is also called here as chai! We were sitting on the side terrace and enjoying the sun.

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The sun started it’s last journey towards the western horizon for this year 2014. It started becoming a bit chilly so we had a round of coffee — turkish coffee. After settling the tab, we started walking out through the lawn.

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New Year eve without whiskey is incomplete. We went to the alcohol shop inside the club. To our dismay, we  found that they have run out of stock of single malt whiskey. So, we returned with Chivas Regal.

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Another activity of New Year eve is wishing and responding to New Year wishes from friends and family. These are a few such occasions in our mundane, busy life when we connect to our near and dear ones. We used to make cards or buy cards, write the messages and send them but now we do it on Facebook & Twitter! I feel that we are losing the personal touch in our relationships.

Thanks to Nadia & Russel for being with us in the afternoon and making the last afternoon of 2014 a different and of course a special one.

I had an amazing 2014. Now let’s see you top that, 2015!

Celebration, Family

Our Wedding Anniversary 2014


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It’s hard to believe that twenty-three years have passed already since Jeet and I were married on this day. I remember that day with mixed emotions still, for such a variety of reasons. But our wedding day was far from perfect and I’m the first to admit. There was curfew in the city of Varanasi when Jeet came to marry me. It was what I like to call ‘imperfectly perfect’ because despite the things we didn’t have, the difficulties that we faced, I married the one whom I love the most. He is my best friend.

As I get older, as my priorities shift and as I realise how important the small stuff is, any feelings of inadequacy I’ve ever had of not having a good enough wedding begin to wash away.

My husband is now far away — working in Baghdad while I am in Ranchi. He prefers to stay alone in Baghdad given the security situations there. But the distance hasn’t dented our relations, perhaps it has emboldened our love for each other.

It was very nice of Jeet to send me flowers, gifts and cake.

I was very happy this morning when I opened the door and the delivery man gave me a nice bouquet, cake carrying a nice message from my husband.

He also tweeted:

Today, as I look behind, I feel that I have everything I need. I feel and am happy. I am beyond blessed. Thanks Jeet for being with me always. I love you dear.

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A very happy anniversary to us!

Art, Celebration, Family, Festival, Religion

Kojagori Lakshmi Puja


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People of Indian states of West Bengal, Assam and Orissa worship Goddess Laksmi on Kojagori Purnima night — the full moon night in the month of Ashwin of Bengali calendar, just four days after Vijaya Dashami or Dusshera — the last day of the Durga puja in the month of October.

It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi, who is the goddess of wealth, and prosperity, visits every household on this full moon night and blesses them with sheer promise of wealth, fortune and good luck.

It is also a common belief that in order to guide goddess Lakshmi to the households, residents lit up deep, earthen lamps on the terraces or balconies especially to show the path inside the house.

It’s customary at our house to Lakshmi puja every Thursday and also on Kojagori purnima. After several years, all of us are at home on this day. It was nice that we all together performed the puja at our house. Babai drew alpana with rice powder paste, while I made all other arrangements and performed the puja. Jaya cooked the bhog.

Alpana refers to colorful motifs, sacred art or painting done on a horizontal surface on auspicious occasions in Bengal like Puja, wedding or community events. The art typically has some religious significance. This type of art is found on the Indian subcontinent. The word Alpana is derived from the Sanskrit alimpana, which means ‘to plaster’ or ‘to coat with’. Traditionally in Bengal, alpana is strictly white since the liquid paste used for alpana is rice powder mixed in water.

Different items are offered to the goddess like fruits, grains, rice, naivedya prepared from milk products sweetmeats made from coconut and other stuffs. Lamps are lit to ward off evil spirits and devotional songs are sung in praise of Goddess Lakshmi.

After the puja is over, we ate prasad — offerings given to the Goddess. I was reminiscing our earlier days. This puja used to be a grand affair at our house with lots of friends coming to our house celebrate this puja and eat prasad at our house. Jaya & my mother used to prepare prasad and bhog for everyone. This time we didn’t make it a big affair as we are leaving for Delhi tomorrow morning.

After puja at our house, we went to Maitraee Club, North Office Para, Doranda for Lakshmi Puja at our club. We had prasad there too. It was a nice evening — feeling blessed.

Lakshmi Puja

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

Celebration, Food

Independence Day 2014 in Baghdad


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Today is India’s 68th Independence Day and I am in Baghdad.

There was an invitation from the Indian Embassy, Baghdad for the flag-hoisting ceremony in the morning. We reached the embassy at 8:00 a.m. Soon the Indian flag was hoisted and the national anthem was sung. It was followed by customary reading of the President’s address on the eve of the Independence Day by Ambassador Ajay Kumar. A local Iraqi boy also gave a small, good speech. He gave a speech last year too.

There were some 30 Indian nationals also, who are returning to India tomorrow through Indian embassy. They are staying now at the premises of the embassy.

The embassy served us traditional Iraqi breakfast items — samoon and falafel.

A samoon is a rhombus shaped bread baked in brick oven. It is made with flour, yeast, water and salt. Quite conducive to stuffing as the interior is a bit more airy.

A falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and sometimes with broad beans also. Falafel is a common dish eaten throughout the Middle East.

Ambassador Ajay Kumar has joined the embassy a couple of months ago and this is our first meeting. We had a long chat with him after other guests departed. We walked back to our home at 11:00 a.m.

Happy Independence Day! Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!

Celebration, Family

Happy birthday, Jaya!


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Today is Jaya’s birthday. I sent her flowers and cake to her as I am in Baghdad now through Ferns N Petals.

It was delivered by afternoon. Jaya called me immediately as she got the bouquet and the cake. She was very happy as she was missing me and our son, Babai. She cut the cake in the afternoon and posted her pictures to me.

With as much love, as I can share, I wanted to let you know I care enough to send some love your way, Happy Birthday, sweetheart! I am missing you.

Celebration, Family, Friends

My birthday 2014


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I am on vacation during my birthday after a long time. I am with my family but  we three of us can’t be together on my birthday March 21, 2014 as Babai is in his institute in Gangtok. Jaya & I are undergoing medical checkups and consultations at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata.

GANGTOK

We visited our son Babai in Gangtok for couple of days and to be together during the auspicious occasion of Holi. We reached Gangtok from Ranchi on March 15, 2014.

Judhajit arranged a birthday cake for me to celebrate it in advance. Thanks @judhajitr.

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

To our surprise, Babai arranged a small, nice cake as we reached our hotel to celebrate my birthday. He arranged this as he would not be with me to celebrate my birthday. It was so nice of him.

Thanks Babai. God bless you!

KOLKATA

On March 21, Jaya’s friend Rina invited us at their house. After our consultations with the doctor at Apollo Gleaneagles Hospital, we went to their house. On the way, Jaya bought a nice cake from Flury’s at Park Street, Kolkata. Also, Rina’s husband Subhro brought another cake! I cut both the cakes.

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This time, it’s a lot of celebration of my birthday! The cutting of cake was followed by lovely dinner prepared by Rina. Thanks Rina and Subhro for celebrating my birthday.

Celebration

Republic Day 2014 in Baghdad


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Today is the 65th Republic day of India. In India, Republic Day honors the date on which the Constitution of India came into force on 26th January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India.

On every Independence Day & Republic Day, the national flag is unfurled at every public office and institution in India followed by singing of the national anthem. We have been observing these days since our school days. It’s really a proud moment for every Indian.

Like every year, the Republic Day is celebrated at the Indian Embassy in Baghdad. I received their invitations by email and phone several days ago. I went in the morning to the residence of the Indian Ambassador, where the Indian Tricolor was unfurled by the Indian Ambassador. Several other Indians in Baghdad also arrived there for the flag hoisting ceremony.

Indian Tricolor was hoisted at Indian Embassy on Republic Day

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

After the flag was unfurled with singing of the national anthem, the address of the President of India to the nation was read by the Ambassador. Then the breakfast was served. Some hot pakoras, halwa and tea. We had some nice chats for a while before returning to our office.

Standing under the Indian flag at Indian Embassy with the Ambassador Reddy

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

The main function was scheduled from 3.00pm. The Indian Embassy and the residence of the Ambassador is next to our head office. For security reasons the road was sanitized and movement was restricted. This caused hardships to many of our staff members. The bank therefore declared closing of head office at 2.00pm. I again went to the Embassy at around 3.00pm. Many dignitaries, ministers, members of Parliament, government officials, diplomats and local businessmen were invited. There were customary speeches followed by lunch.

We walked back to our residence in the evening. It’s the day to remember the sacrifices of the freedom fighters and their families.

The evening of the Republic Day is a very sad moment for me and I prefer to be alone in this evening. As the dusk was settling down on the city of Jamshedpur 9 years ago my mother left us and went on her journey to her eternal abode. She was feeling uncomfortable in the afternoon. We rushed her to the hospital. As I was getting her admitted there after the doctors recommended for her admittance, she passed away. I feel very sad that we couldn’t do anything to save her as the time ran out so fast. I always remember you, Maa and miss you very much.

Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!

Celebration, Food

First evening of 2014


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We planned to have dinner outside to celebrate the New Year. Today’s a holiday in Baghdad. But some of my colleagues went to office in connection with annual closing of books. This time I didn’t plan to visit office as I thought they would manage themselves. This would have been my first annual closing day in bank since 1986 and I am at home. But, this record could not be created as I had to go to office today in the afternoon. My colleagues were having some confusions and problems. So, I had to visit office for just a couple of hours.

In the evening, we went to Mansour Mall for some loitering in the mall followed by dinner there. There’s a huge crowd on the road leading to the mall and inside the mall. Police closed the road to the mall and so we got down from the car near Al Rowad and walked down.

#igersbaghdad #igersiraq #baghdad #mall

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

Lots of people are there in the mall to enjoy the first evening of this New Year like us. We slowly reached the top floor, which houses the food plaza after walking around on each floor. It was jam-packed. I enjoy crowd and love lots of people around.

Mansour Mall decorated for Christmas and New Year. It's heavily crowded today.

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

There was not a single table available. People are also eating standing. We managed to find some space on the counters around the pillars. We had a pizza there. Then we ordered burgers and wrap for takeaway. We thought that it’s better to eat them at home. We then walked down to Al Rowad again to board our car to return home.

We ate our burger and wrap with whiskey at home while enjoying watching TV. This was quite a nice way to begin the New Year in Baghdad.

Celebration

Happy New Year!


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Of all sound of all bells… most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the Old Year. Goodbye 2013!

And we welcome 2014, the New Year, full of things that have never been. New Year comes with glows of hopes in our mind. It gives us new confidence and courage for a fresh start.

Wishing everyone a great, prosperous, healthy, delightful, and safe 2014 with full of great achievements and experiences. Today’s New Year morning sunshine will be full of new energy. Let all the woes be in decline, and bring all the good vibes, in synergy.