Granny diaries...Of collecting memories while creating new ones in Kolkata

Oiling her hair while we chatted after breakfast.
My granny. No make up. Candid.
28th June, 2017. iPhone 6

"But won't you feel hot," was my grandma's first reaction when I told her the day before that I was coming to visit her in Kolkata. 

Funnily enough, that's the same thing that my aunt asked me yesterday when she heard that I had come to spend a few days here.

It's been 37 odd years since I moved into India and the heat here is something that I have still not got used to (!) and everyone in my family knows about it thanks to my fussiness. 

This morning at didu's

When I woke up this morning at my granny's place, I saw that it was nice and wet outside and not too hot. The house seemed as if it was naturally air-conditioned. It was as is my granny had willed things to be as comfortable as it could be for her admittedly spoilt and pampered firstborn grandson.

I stayed home through the most of the day as I had a very bad back pain after the the trip yesterday. To add to it, the biryani that I called in last night gave me an upset tummy. So I decided to stay in and spend time with my granny which was the idea of the trip to start in though I rued not being able to explore a bit of the old restaurants of Kolkata as planned in this pleasant weather. 

I tried to help didu (my granny) figure out how to use the 'easyfone' handset that we had given her phone which didn't turn out to be that easy though! I then showed her videos and pictures of my niece and some pictures of my cousin who has just graduated in the US which made her smile. 

We spoke about cousins and siblings and then granny told me about how she felt that, unlike earlier, families seem to be so small today. She spoke wistfully of the extended family that she once had and about how so many of her brothers in law live alone after their spouses passed away. She spoke about how earlier people would host members in single rooms houses without fuss during vacations or weddings and the women in the house would cook for guests happily. 

"People are fussy now," she said.

Truer words were never said.

As I looked around the house, I would keep coming across photographs that are strewn across of various members of the family...from weddings and birthdays and one with me in a cafe of course. 

These pictures keep her company when she is alone I guess in a way Instagram albums never can.

A picture of us at the CCD at South City placed on a TOI Kolkata
issue which featured me after my book launch here

K and me when we came to Kolkata after
we got married

The bottom pic is from when my parents got married and my grandparents are in the middle,
the one above of a birthday party and then one of my
youngest uncle and aunt

From an evening when we tried my grandparents
to pose romantically

I din't want to bother my granny by telling her about my aches and pains which were rather pygmyish in scale compared to what she goes through every day.

For breakfast I had kochuri and alu that she called for from Poddar's, the local snack shop,  and the baked roshogolla that my aunt in Kolkata had sent. The food did make me feel better as K said  it would, though I didn't stretch myself and fill myself given the previous night's biryani mishap.

Kochuri ghoogni and baked  roshogolla

Didu was feeling bad about not being able to cook me a proper meal given that I was staying with her after so long. I tried to explain that she should not as she has cooked me many meals when I would visit her in the past when I was not staying with her. 

My bad run with outside food continued in this trip though. I went out for a stroll at lunch time and picked up a 'lunch pack' of fried rice and chilli chicken (Rs 60) from the kochuri place in the market. When I opened the pack for eating, didu grunted and said, 'how is this a fried rice, it looks like a biryani.''

She was referring to the gravy spread on it.

MSG special

The meal was pleasant to eat but the moment I finished eating, I was struck with a headache which stayed on through the day. MSG is my guess. Which is strange given that I had MSG ridden noodles in road side road shops while growing up in Kolkata.

In the evening I visited my friends Kaniska, his mom and his wife. Uber and Ola made the trips so easy. Kaniska had told me the previous day that his mom likes shingaras or Bengali samosas. So I picked some from Joyguru sweets from where my granny gets samosas for me. They were truly good and aunty loved them.

Shingara and mochar chop from Joyguru Sweets

After my outside food misadventures, the ladies took control and made sure that I had a home cooked dinner. Manishita sent chicken curry for me and koi fish for my granny. My granny got alu and chhena and alu and unripe banana curry and rice made for me.

I've never eaten unripe bananas at home but then thought that I eat all this in restaurants so it is time that I eat it quietly at home. Coincidentally both Manishita and didu were born in Dhaka.

Dinner at didu's
While writing this post it struck me that the time for nostalgia is over and that I should use this opportunity to collect memories while I create new ones and that's what I am going to do. 

I am leaving you with some pictures from the para around my didu's house. It's in a suburb which has changed since we first came here and perhaps might be unrecognisable a few years later.

The field where the Durga Puja happens

Great shingaras sit here
Treasure the kochuri and avoid the Chinese
I can do without the nostalgia.
Ola and Uber is a Godsend
The cha-ala who supplies tea to the shops in the markets
It's plastic cups now and not earthen bhars