Well I am back. Two weeks of home was bliss.

The smell of the dhuno, the bhog, the smell of homecoming - I was so glad to be back in Calcutta.

We have a family puja which is some hundred years old (my father, heaven forbid, if you get him started on it will give you the history as vividly as possible and bring out the family tree chart as well). We rotate the Durga Puja among three houses, ours being one of them. But this time it was at an uncle's place.

I rediscovered many things at the puja. Amongst which foremost was a crush on a cousin. A distant one - may I point out! I still feel the same way and I was strongly tempted to talk to him about it. Thankfully this time I let my impulse take a back seat.

In the same house was my aunt's husband who is bedridden. He has cancer. From a healthy good looking man he has been reduced to what I cannot even call a shadow of his former self. His daughter has come down from the States to be with him. Apparently she has been crying all the time, so her husband sent her back. The aunt couldn't even smile properly when she met me. I felt like hugging her and telling her everything will be okay. But that was the one thing I just could not do, could I?

On the second day of sapthami I realised that I was only the youngster around. Otherwise it was only my parents, and my uncles and aunts. Would my generation ever take the pains to carry on this tradition? Seems highly unlikely. All my cousins are abroad and scattered in different parts of the country.

The relatives were highly flattering though. I was a major celebrity among them. "We read you every time and wonder how you know so much!" By the end of it my jaws were aching with smiling. Next they leapt on to what is their favourite territory. "Have you found a guy for yourself? What is it with you girls that you do not want to get engaged?" asked aunt A whose daughter N is the same age as me and studies in London. "I am telling you what I tell N. When you have a slim waistline, guys should fall in line. Is it that you don't want to commit?" she asked.

And she launched on to a story. She recently visited N and was very excited about her male friends. "It was a reunion. The first guy whom N hugged and kissed was this really good looking guy called Simon. I was excited. She introduced me to him and then his girlfriend. Some time later she hugged another guy, Paul, and told me he was a very close friend. He was not bad looking and I tried hard not to raise my hopes. She introduced me to his parents and siblings. I thought this is the one. Till another guy came along and she introduced him as Paul's partner." What was aunt A getting at? Get yourself a guy.

My parents did the best they could to remedy that in their own way. On consecutive days, there were two guys, AG and AGT, to see me along with their family.

With the two meetings coming to an end, I have realised that I don't want to get married in this way.

Being asked what I cook, why my Bengali has an accent (I don't. AG's father insisted I had. I didn't bother to argue after a point), why I want to get married (I replied very honestly to this. My parents want me to, I said. AG was of course not happy with it), what I had talked about with the guy can you believe this? AG's uncle asked me this. And I rattled it out.. what are my working hours, what am I looking for in a guy, why I want to marry blah
blah. Till the uncle looked at me and said you are a quite a child. I was pissed).

AGT was nice but I got brotherly vibes from him. My mum couldn't believe this. "You can adjust," she said.

I couldn't think of either as my partner. My folks were very disappointed. "Mamma, do you want to look for yourself? Is that it?" my father asked in a concerned manner. And then, "How do we say no to them now?" But there's always a way out. My father has figured it out by now.

Besides the boy and boy's family meeting girl sessions I endured, I did something I have been obsessing about. I had KFC. I overate till I felt sick.

And I went cycling. The weather towards the beginning was fabulous in Calcutta though a bit humid. But once I was on the cycle, I felt the world was at my feet. It felt so right.

All in all I was the perfect daughter (I did not fight for a single day). Except for the last day when I fought with them. We did make up before me leaving however.

Funnily I didn't feel much homesick after reaching Delhi. The weather is perfect.

It's not so bad to have two homes after all.


thalassa_mikra said...

Welcome back (well, I already noticed your return on my blog, but this is your first post-vacation post).

Here's wishing very good things for your uncle.

Think of your flirtations with the whole arranged marriage deal as amusing stories to tell your friends. If you know it's not for you, then the only option is to go and find your own guy :)!

AB said...

Thanks. It is nice to be back. Because I was kinda blogsick.

Ahem... that's a sore spot mate. I don't think that guy exists:-(

eM said...

Oh god. Marriage talks.
My grandmother was just here and was treated to much eye-rolling when she went on about a "suitable boy".
But you must come and see my new flat :)

Pareshaan said...

Seems like you had a really good Puja break. Very well written, makes me wanna go back home too - waaaah!

Toe Knee said...

Great to hear about the Great AB swayamvar. There's plenty of time for you and lots of decent guys still to go. Best of Luck.

Saltwater Blues said...

hey! good ur back. missed ya!

Vignesh said...

So you have a slim waist. Duly noted ! ;)

I dread any trips home for very similar reasons. Enough fights and arguments and what not. Good to have you back though!

And yeah! we have all been there at some point - the crush on a cousin. Quite ok I think if nothing is done about it! ;)

Penny Lane said...

I think its awesome that you are not being forced to marry these guys you are not connecting with... Brotherly vibes indeed... And don't lose hope, you'll meet someone right one day...

AB said...

eM: At least you get away with rolling your eyes!

When's the invite?:-)

Pareshaan: It was great and so far one of the most chilled out holidays I have had.

Toe Knee: 'lots of decent guys'??? Pray tell me where...

Saltwater Blues: Thanks. But taken with a fist of salt;)

Vignesh: Now why did I not know that you would be noting that!

But I really wish I could have done something on the cousin front. Coward me:(

Penny: Not being forced true, but the emotional thing is there you know. The prelude is my father's words: "I am not going to be there always." I have become so used to it that now I say before he can start "So I get married huh?"

Sigh. I wish you were right.

First Rain said...

'ello! n welcome back to a `getting cold these days' Delhi :D

So u had an adventurous puja with brotherly suitors :P and fried chicken and cycling - cool!

Hope to see you around sometime soon.

Amy said...

Nice to see a post after the long absence :-) i miss kolkata so much!!esp. during puja time. its been six years since i saw a real puja. My last one was in '99 when we all went out and got drunk.....remember? hehehe....very unreligious of us (unreligious...hmm is that a real word??? anywayz who cares i'm tired).....but it was so much fun.

AB said...

First Rain: Love this phase of Delhi getting cold.

Amy: Was it at Mishras? God seems aeons away.

Parna said...

Shubho Bijoya. nothing beats home and especially being at home during the pujos.

Rat said...

Sounds like your trip home had a little bit of everything. What is the dhuno and the bhog ?

Essar said...

hey! good to have you back. have to tell u some funny stories as well!

couchpotato said...

Looks like you had a nice trip... wish I could get back home, too!

Ardra said...

just wanted to tell you that i like coming back to your blogs...

AB said...

Parna: Shubho Bijoya. The feeling's exclusive:-)

Rat: Dhuno is the coconut coir that is burnt in an earthen lamp during the aaratis and the pujo. Kind of a natural incense.

And bhog is actually khichuri, a part of the prasad at the pujos. It is what you call khichdi. But it is yumm.

I don't think I am very good at explaining stuff...(sheepish grin)

Essar: I don't want to talk to you. You never messaged back when I wished you shubho bijoya.

Couchpotato: But don't you live at home?

Ardra: Hey thanks! Do keep dropping by.

Hiren said...

Some of the writeup reminded me of what Rani Mukherjee said in a recent movie," Indians have no other obsession other than getting the girls married. Do girls have nothing to do except get married?" It was the movie "Hum tum" I think.

n.g. said...

what does accented bengali sound like? i thought one usually had a bengali accent, and not the other way around. everything okay with you in delhi?

amy said...

It was at mishra's and I believe it was the first time you got drunk!

thalassa_mikra said...

AB, this is the post I was talking about:


She removed at least one comment that called her post a troll.

AB said...

Hiren: You are right. So sad that it is happening with me right now.

Nish: This man was hinting at the fact that I speak too much of English. Which I was not. And my poor father was coming up with excuses as to why I have an accent in Bengali. I was so angry.

Oh I am alive and kicking.

Amy: I was 18. sigh.

Thalassa: Will check it out. Troll is funny:)

First Rain said...

Hope you are safe. Have a safe Diwali!

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Parna said...

Happy Diwali AB :) hope you had a light filled one

AB said...

First Rain: Thanks. Did have a safe one sitting at home:-)

Parna: A noisy one definitely!

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The Marauder's Map said...

Great post, sweetie. I remember talking to your dad last year while doing that puja story. But why do you let yourself be paraded? Why? Why?

And people, I can elucidate on the elusive AB accent: it is totally 'Bangla mayer Anglo shontan' with a bit of babytalk thrown in! Now you can imagine. No wonder the prospective grooms' parents think she is underage! Actually good strategy, that, pretending to be the unfinished child-woman types :D

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