Family


“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Celebration, Family

Mother’s Day


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Mother’s Day is a modern celebration honoring one’s own mother, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It was founded for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers and work for peace.

It all started in the 1850s, when West Virginia women’s organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis—Anna’s mother—held Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination, according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College. The groups also tended wounded soldiers from both sides during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

Anna Jarvis never had children of her own, but the 1905 death of her own mother inspired her to organize the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908. On 10 May of that year, families gathered at events in Jarvis’s hometown of Grafton, West Virginia—at a church now renamed the International Mother’s Day Shrine—as well as in Philadelphia, where Jarvis lived at the time, and in several other cities.

Largely through Jarvis’s efforts, Mother’s Day came to be observed in a growing number of cities and states until U.S. President Woodrow Wilson officially set aside the second Sunday in May in 1914 for the holiday.

The holiday Anna Jarvis launched has spread around much of the world, though it’s celebrated with varying enthusiasm, in various ways, and on various days—though more often than not on the second Sunday in May. In much of the Arab world, Mother’s Day is on March 21, which happens to loosely coincide with the start of spring. The modern Mother’s Day has been assimilated into Indian culture, and it is celebrated every year on the second Sunday of May.

I was busy in the office when Jaya called to inform me that Babai had sent her flowers and chocolate on Mother’s Day. She was very happy and she was damn surprised as Babai kept it secret from her although he confided it with me. We wanted to give her a pleasant surprise.

As I hung up the phone, I was thinking of my mother. My thoughts for her could best be said in the words of Adriana Trigiani, Big Stone Gap:

“No one worries about you like your mother, and when she is gone, the world seems unsafe, things that happen unwieldy. You cannot turn to her anymore, and it changes your life forever. There is no one on earth who knew you from the day you were born; who knew why you cried, or when you’d had enough food; who knew exactly what to say when you were hurting; and who encouraged you to grow a good heart. When that layer goes, whatever is left of your childhood goes with her.”

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of the world. They are truly divine.

Reference:

Handwerk, Brian (2014) “Mother’s Day Turns 100: Its Surprisingly Dark History”, National Geographic, 09 May.

Family, Food & Drink, Leisure

Dim sum, Hummus & Falafel


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It was 30 March, Jaya’s stitches on her right wrist were removed. Things were looking okay. Her abdomen stitches would be removed next day. It was getting into evening, Jaya was in no mood to return to the hotel so early. I was a bit hesitant whether she would be able to roam around as she was recovering from her major operation two weeks ago.

A woman is always a woman. She wanted to go to a mall! We decided to go to the Quest Mall near Park Circus, Kolkata. It’s a bright, new mall. I also like walking around here. We were feeling a bit hungry as we left after having breakfast in the morning.

But Jaya wanted to have tea first. So, we went into a Chinese restaurant — Yuatcha and had nice hot tea with dim sums.

Dim sum is a style of Cantonese food. It is inextricably linked with yum cha, or the act of drinking tea – so much so that even now the two phrases are used interchangeably. The unique culinary tradition began thousands of years ago. Those who travelled along the ancient Silk Road through China would often need a place to rest before continuing on their journey. In response to the increasing amount of people passing through, tea houses opened up along the roadside of southern China. It was later discovered that tea aids digestion, so tea-house owners began offering bite-sized snacks as an accompaniment, and thus yum cha was born.

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It started raining outside. It was, in fact, raining heavily. We couldn’t go out. We then walked into the food court for some snacks as we were waiting for the rainfall to stop. We found a Lebanese food stall. We ordered for hummus and falafel.

Hummus is a Levantine food dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini (a paste from grounded, hulled sesame seeds), olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.

Having #falafel and #hummus with @jagrataroychoudhury

A photo posted by I.RoyChoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is a common dish eaten throughout the Arab world. The fritters are now found around the world and as a form of street food, too.

We walked out of the gate and found the rain is over. We took the cab and returned to our hotel.

Celebration, Family, Friends

My Birthday 2015


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It has been 6 weeks now that I underwent twin surgeries. I can’t thank you all enough for your prayers. It’s comforting to have so many friends praying for me.

Today’s my birthday. Since last midnight, I am getting birthday wishes from my family, friends and relatives. It’s truly comforting to get so many good wishes, I feel loved.

Among the early wishes, I received a call from my son and husband. Jeet Whatsapp’ed me my photo of cutting a cake with “Happy Birthday” message. It’s the cake that Jeet brought the evening before he left for Baghdad for celebrating my birthday in advance. I was looking so sick! Yes, I just had my stitches removed then. I am missing you Jeet and Babai very much.

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Jeet sent me flowers and cake today through Ferns N Petals. I always feel that you’re with me. I love you Jeet.

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In the evening, my friends were with me and again I cut another cake. I enjoyed the day celebrating my birthday.

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But inside my heart, I was feeling sad as I was missing my son, Babai and my husband, Jeet.

Family, Healthcare

Jaya Is Going For Total Hysterectomy


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Jaya was suffering from pelvic endometriosis since last few years. Endometriosis happens when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus on the ovaries where it doesn’t belong. Currently causes for endometriosis are unknown.

There is no cure for endometriosis, but it can be treated in a variety of ways, including pain medication, hormonal treatments, and surgery. If endometriosis is left untreated, it becomes worse in about 4 in 10 cases. It gets better without treatment in about 3 in 10 cases. For the rest it stays about the same. Complications sometimes occur in women with severe untreated endometriosis.

During last consultation with her gynecologist on June 20, 2014 Dr. Indrani Lodh advised Jaya that she needs surgery — total hysterectomy otherwise her condition may become worse. Total Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus including removal of cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes. The doctor suggested for laparoscopic hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. A hysterectomy is a major operation.

As explained by the doctor, laparoscopic hysterectomy is done using a laparoscope, which is a tube with a lighted camera, and surgical tools inserted through several small cuts made in the belly. The surgeon performs the hysterectomy from outside the body, viewing the operation on a video screen.

She further explained that using a minimally invasive procedure (MIP) approach to remove the uterus offers a number of benefits when compared to the more traditional open surgery used for an abdominal hysterectomy. In general, an MIP allows for faster recovery, shorter hospital stays, less pain and scarring, and a lower chance of infection than does an abdominal hysterectomy. We decided for laparoscopic hysterectomy.

We earlier planned the surgery to be got done in winter but we had to postpone it because of marriage of Jaya’s cousin. The surgery is scheduled tomorrow at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata. There will be another minor operation on her right wrist for carpal tunnel syndrome — right-sided carpal tunnel release after a couple of days. The carpal tunnel release will be done by neurosurgeon Dr. BK Singhania.

Babai is with her. For more than 2 months, I have been consistently pursuing and following up for renewal of my “Iqama” (Residency Permit), without which I cannot travel out and return. But the delay is caused, unfortunately. I am forced to defer my travel. The process for extension of Iqama is just completed today. I will be reaching there after her main surgery. :-(

Babai and I love Jaya very much and we are praying that the operation is a success and that she has a full and healthy recovery.

Art, Family, Food & Drink, Leisure

Kolkata Book Fair


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indexI was returning from Gangtok on a two-week holiday from my institute after our third-year examination on February 1. My mom was in Kolkata to attend her friend’s daughter’s marriage followed by her routine medical checkups and consultations. So, I joined her in Kolkata. After her checkups and consultations at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, on February 2, we decided to go for the Kolkata Book Fair (কলকাতা বই মেলা) in the afternoon. One of my friends Manali also joined us there. The fair is being held at “Milan Mela” near Science City on E.M. Bypass. Two years ago, while returning from Kumbh Mela we couldn’t visit the book fair as that was the last day and I didn’t want to miss the chance this time.

International Kolkata Book Fair is a late winter fair in Kolkata. It is a unique book fair in the sense of not being a trade fair – the book fair is primarily for the general public rather than whole-sale distributors. It celebrates international literature and reflects India’s much-loved reading tradition. The Kolkata Book Fair, recognised by International Publishers Association, Geneva, is also the largest Book Fair of the world in terms of visitors.

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It’s reported that the last year’s edition of International Kolkata Book Fair was visited by around 2 million book-lovers over 12 days and books worth Rs 200 million ($3.25 million) were sold. It is the world’s third largest annual conglomeration of books after the Frankfurt Book Fair and the London Book Fair.

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The focal theme this year was Great Britain. The fair was divided into five big pavilions. Each of the pavilions contained different publication houses from India and abroad. The pavilions were very large and had mammoth collection of books from almost all subjects and interests one can imagine. I could not visit all of them but I visited two of the pavilions. One of them was containing British publishers like Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, etc. The Oxford stall was no less than a usual Oxford bookstore having books ranging from kids fiction categories to business books. They even had comics of great Japanese series like bleach and one piece (my favorite).  There were stalls especially for research books  covering every field from biomechanics to elementary physics and astrophysics.

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In the other one, there were stalls for local publishers like Ananda Publishers, Dey’s Publishing, etc. These stalls had basically all the Bengali books and novels ranging from Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray to current writers. There were separate stalls outside the pavilions. Other than that there were small stalls of different bookstores outside of the pavilions. This book fair could feed needs of every reader. it’s truly a paradise of book-lovers.

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The delicious attraction of this book fair was the food court — the gastronomic section where variety of snacks, sweets & confectionaries and other food items were available. There were outlets of Dominos, Kathleen, Laziz, Roll’nRoll, Alibaba etc. Some famous restaurants of Kolkata had also opened their stalls there.

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Mind-boggling varieties of dishes — very difficult to choose

They were serving delicious, mouth-watering dishes like fish fry, chicken rolls, prawn chilli to biryani and even different flavored patishapta (Indian style crepes stuffed with sweet fillings).

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Mom and Manali looking liliputs :-)

There was even a tall guy standing on sticks, wearing a menu card of one of the food stalls in the food court, inviting people to the stall.

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WP_20150202_018The other attraction of this fair that I found out interesting was different forms of artwork which I saw there. It was amazing to find artists actually working there on the spot and painting bottles, clothes and many different things that we generally dispose off after use.

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This actually proved a good point in reusing the refuse. The idea is very inspiring and I was excited to see them doing that on the spot. This is good for our nature and sustainability.

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An artist busy in creating a masterpiece

I love reading books and was very thrilled to be there. We visited many pavilions but couldn’t visit all of them due to paucity of time. We bought a Kindle for my dad — it is for his birthday gift. I bought several books. I wanted to buy more books but couldn’t buy more as we had to go to our home in Ranchi next day. I missed my dad very much as he is fond of books and he loves reading books. The time was too short although we were there for more than 4 hours. Any number of hours — even a full day is too short for this book fair. I felt bad that I could only visit two halls.

A good book has often been called a man’s best friend, or as Groucho Marx puts it, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

Atri Bhattacharya has rightly said: “The Kolkata Book Fair (KBF) is a phenomenon. Large. Crowded. Noisy. Intellectual. (Oh, very intellectual!) Musical. Gastronomic. Artistic. Controversial. Chaotic. Resilient. In its own way, it encapsulates the character of its city and its most visible tribe: The literary Bengali.”

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!

Family, Festival, Food & Drink, Religion

Annakoot–Mountain of Food


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Annakoot — Mountain of food — is celebrated in observance of the episode in Sri Krishna’s childhood, in which He gave protection to the cowherd clan of Vrindavan from the wrath of Indra and humbled Indra in that process. The cowherd, their wives, children and cattle jubilantly surrounded Sri Krishna. They were awed by His superhuman accomplishment and celebrated Sri Krishna’s feat with a sumptuous feast. Thus began the tradition of Annakoot.

Gaudiya Math (pronounced as Mutt) in Allahabad also celebrates Annakoot. Baba — Jaya’s father — planned to visit the temple at the Gaudiya Math with all the family members for the worship on the day of Govardhan Puja. It’s the next day after Diwali. This year, it’s celebrated on October 24. Baba is a regular visitor at this ashram.

The Annakoot or the Govardhan Puja celebrations take place on the first day of the month of Kartik which is the first month of the Hindu new year — Vikrami Samvat. The Monsoon season has come to an end and new harvest has been brought in from the fields and grains and cereals are plentiful. To thank the Lord for the good year that has just ended, plenty of delicious foods are prepared and offered to the Supreme Lord.

According to legends, Lord Krishna taught people to worship the Supreme Controller of nature, God, specifically Govardhan, as Govardhan is a manifestation of Krishna, and to stop worshiping the God of Rains, Lord Indra. For Annakoot, a mountain of food is decorated symbolizing Govardhan mountain said to be lifted by Lord Krishna to save the people from the wrath of Lord Indra, the demigod in charge of rain.

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The devotees gathered in the temple, listened to religious discourse given by the swamiji maharaj and sang kirtans. A communal worship in the form of an Aarti was performed.

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We all sat on the floor of the temple hall with other devotees in rows and enjoyed the Annakoot prasad, and bhog offered to Lord Krishna. We prayed to Lord Krishna and returned home. Baba was very happy that we all family members went to the temple and had the prasad and bhog.

Annakoot at Gaudiya Math

A photo posted by Jagrata Roy Choudhury (@jagrataroychoudhury) on

Family, Food & Drink, Leisure

Dining at Alfresco, Kolkata


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On 16 October 2014, I came to Kolkata with my parents for my mom’s health check up at Quadra Medical Services, Hazra Road.

My dad booked at Great Eastern Hotel in Dalhousie for our stay tonight. It’s the oldest five-star hotels in all over Asia and its establishment dates back to 1840s during the East India Company rule in Kolkata. The hotel has been in top charts since then. The location of the hotel is very good as it’s in the heart of the main business district of Kolkata. All the big and reputed companies have their establishment around.

The hotel is quite huge with three separate restaurants. One of them is on the lobby named Alfresco, which is a multi-cuisine restaurant accompanied with a café. The hotel is now managed by Lalit group.

We walked in there for our dinner. Well it is a very beautiful restaurant. As the name literally suggests ‘outdoor’, all the arrangements are like sitting in the outdoor porch or a tent with circular glass cane table and cane chairs complemented with sweet chirping of birds making you feel sitting at a garden in the open. The ambiance made us feel good. My mom was tired of the journey started feeling refreshed there.

We had a hard time discussing the menu since there were a lot new dishes on the menu card. Finally we settled for ‘mushroom cappuccino’ soup for my dad and me and my mom had ordered for hot and sour soup as she doesn’t like mushrooms. As the name mushroom cappuccino soup it was served in a cappuccino cup, yah truly in a cappuccino cup with cookie shaped baked breads! The innovative cappuccino was a rich, earthy soup made with mushrooms and served exactly like cappuccino. The froth and color was very much similar to the cappuccino that we generally have at the café. The presentation was awesome. The innovation was really appreciable.

Having dinner at Alfresco

A photo posted by I.RoyChoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

Along with that they served some breads and green salad. Also we ordered for chicken Caesar salad which was equally delicious.

But for us, the star dish for the dinner was the traditional Bengali dish: ‘posto murgi’, which we ordered in the main course. The concept of posto (poppy seeds) murgi (chicken) is truly awesome. The idea of posto with some non-vegetarian item is really novel and a peculiarity of Bengali cuisine.

Posto murgi — chicken cooked in poppy seed curry

A photo posted by I.RoyChoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

The taste of the “posto murgi” — chicken in poppy-seed paste — was even more delicious than I had expected. Along with that we had preserved breast chicken which was chef’s special. It was a chicken steak along with steamed omelets. We had fresh lime soda (sweetened) before leaving the restaurant. The food was so great that I would say that this place should be visited once again for enjoying the foods here.

I’m loving it!!!

Family, Heritage, Leisure, Travel

Ugrasen ki Baoli


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My dad has come to Delhi for attestation of some documents by Iraqi embassy. So, mom and I also accompanied him to Delhi from Ranchi.

I went with my dad. Mom was resting at the hotel. After depositing the document at Ministry of External Affairs for their attestation before it’s attested by the Iraqi embassy, Dad & I went for a walk from Patiala House towards Connaught Place. We then walked into the historic Ugrasen ki Baoli.

Ancient Indians used to build water temples as well as earliest forms of step wells and reservoirs.

Ugrasen ki Baoli (a.k.a. Agrasen ki Baoli) is one of such step wells in Delhi.

It is designated a protected monument by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). It’s a 60-meter long and 15-meter wide historical step well on Hailey Road near Connaught Place in New Delhi.

Baoli or baori is a Hindi word (from Sanskrit vapi, vapika). Water temples and temple step wells were built in ancient India and the earliest forms of step well and reservoir were also built in India in places like Dholavira as far back as the Indus Valley Civilisation.

Although there are no known historical records to prove who built Agrasen ki Baoli, it is believed that it was originally built by the legendary king Agrasen during the Mahabharat epic era and rebuilt in the 14th century by the Agrawal community which traces its origin to Maharaja Agrasen.

From the core of the well. It’s now closed to avoid accidents. It had water before. My dad also saw water in this Baoli.

The Baoli is a unique blend of architecture with an impressive design known to have existed centuries ago. The red stone walls of the Baoli, dressed with a series of arched structure are grim and desolate, but still beautiful.

The Baoli is made up of a series of superimposed arches supported on piers or columns. It consists of 103 steps made of red stones.

The Baoli had water till recent times, but now it has dried up and one can see the bed of the reservoir.

Bed of the reservoir

It is a cool and silent place in the heart of the capital. The silence deepens as one moves to the bottom of the stairs, and the gradual increase in the gurgling sound of pigeons, and squeaky chatter of bats echoing off the stone walls makes this place creepy.

Agrasen ki baoli

A photo posted by I.RoyChoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

The mystic architecture is definitely worth a visit.

Family, Food & Drink, Heritage, Leisure, Travel

India Gate at Night


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India Gate is the pride of Delhi. An imposing structure, the gate was built in memory to the of the 90,000 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives during World War I.

The India Gate is a war memorial located astride the Rajpath. 13,300 servicemen names, including some soldiers and officers from the UK, are inscribed on the gate.

The India Gate, even though a war memorial, evokes the architectural style of the triumphal arch.

India Gate at night

A photo posted by I.RoyChoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

In 1971, following the Bangladesh Liberation war, a small simple structure, consisting of a black marble plinth, with reversed rifle, capped by war helmet, bounded by four eternal flames, was built beneath the soaring Memorial Archway. This structure, called Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the Flame of the Immortal Soldier, since 1971 has served as India’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

During the night, India gate is dazzled by floodlit and the fountains nearby are lit up with colored lights. People throng the lawns around the India Gate in the night.We went there yesterday to enjoy the splendor of India Gate. There are many vendors selling tea, ice creams, chanachur, toys etc.

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We spent sometime there and returned after having dinner at Pindi Restaurant in Pandara Road, New Delhi. We had lovely chicken dishes and then returned to our hotel.

Dinner with @judhajitr and @jagrataroychoudhury at Pindi in Pandara Road, New Delhi

A photo posted by I.RoyChoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on