I had a genuine reason to be away from blogging for a while now. I was in Raiganj for a two week holiday. It has been the best holiday I have had in times I can remember. Let me try to give words to the overwhelming experience I went through in one of the busiest, most exciting and memorable holidays of my life.
I chose Air India to fly down to India from London (and return) over numerous European flights – reason being simple – food. And I did not feel let down as the food was indeed amazing (so much so that I told my mother not to bother herself about packing food for the return flight). The flight was very comfortable unlike what my friends had alarmed me about. Most of the time I read the book “The Shadow of the Wind” that I was carrying and rest of the time watched the movie “Naseeb” starring Amitabh Bachchan (Din’t have any good English movie option, and I din’t mind it either).
On reaching Delhi, a very close friend of mine from undergrad days was waiting at the airport. I must have caused her a lot of pain because of the wait and confusion of domestic/international terminal, but I was glad she undertook it without complaining. We are friends since 8 years now, I have never felt so touched by a gesture of a friend that I felt this time. I gave her a bag (apt for weekend travel) I bought for her in London as a wedding gift which she seemed to have liked.
In that little time that we had, as I had to catch a connecting flight to Kolkata, she showed me the largest shopping mall in India (I think in Asia as well, not sure) called Ambience in Gurgaon. We had a nice lunch and nicer conversations. For a 5 O’clock flight I managed to reach the airport at 4.15pm only to be told that my flight is closed and departing as it has been re-scheduled for 4.30pm. Phew! After not much argument, they decided to send me on a later flight with no extra charges. I was bowled over by the hospitability. Delhi airport came across as clean and not very different from London Heathrow airport in terms of management and facilities.
I reached Kolkata quite late in the night which meant that the train booked for Raiganj had already left. With no alternative we (my father and my younger brother who had come to receive me) agreed to go by bus. Father’s network helped and we got three reserved tickets on a bus. The journey from Kolkata to Raiganj was really miserable. An over-night journey with no proper seats to relax, pathetic roads, and to top it all I felt the need to go to the toilet. The bus stopped in the middle of the night for dinner. I rushed to the ladies toilet of the road-side hotel (called “line hotel”) after ordering some dinner for the three of us. My younger brother warned me about the hygiene of the food, but I decided to eat it anyway. The food served on unclean plates was very tasty – simple chapattis with tarka daal (black curry made with pulses). However the toilet completely put me off. I was on the verge of vomiting. And it is something that I felt concerned about throughout my holiday. Sanitation in India is a huge matter of concern.
Raiganj was as warm as it has always been. Nothing had changed in the town (apart from the renovation my mother is getting done in our showroom). My mother had planned out lots of visits to family and friends which I thoroughly enjoyed. I found warmth in them. I found an eagerness to embrace shedding apprehensions of all sorts. I felt genuineness in their love, respect, kindness and hospitability. I felt touched. More than once did I have tears in my eyes when I bid adieu to them.
I went to my alma mater with a joy of seeing the teachers who have made me what I am today, without whom I would not have understood the importance of consistent hard work, the importance of not just reaching the top but also maintaining the position.
I was overwhelmed by the warmth my teachers exuded. They invited me for a talk so that I inspire the current students to aspire and motivate them to work towards achieving the aspirations. I took no time to accept the invitation. On a later scheduled date I spoke to the current students and got an overwhelming response from them. My school celebrates its 100th birthday in 2011 for which I have promised to try my best to gather all the alumni spread across the world on one platform. I reckon to make the celebration worth remembering for times to come.
One thing that I love since childhood is to go to cinema followed by a nice family dinner in a restaurant. “Luck By Chance” was on Asha Talkies and I could not resist my temptation. I coaxed my younger brother and two other kids in our locality to come along with me. My parents could not manage time to go with us for the movie on one of the three cinema halls in Raiganj (the third one generally plays adult or B-grade bollywood movies). All the hype about this movie seemed unwarranted as very soon I found my younger brother, on my left, going off to sleep. The two kids, on my right, were not able to understand what was happening in the film so I started explaining them the scenes. A group of loafer guys were making so much of noise that I myself was not able to understand half of the movie. Thankfully the storyline was the most unpredictable and boring one so it was very easy to fill up the gaps. The gang of guys would start clapping very loudly sometimes when the heroine hugs the hero or gives a sly smile or just like that with no reason which in a way helped my brother to ward off his sleep to an extent. I enjoyed every bit of my time watching Luck By Chance in Asha Talkies.
It was time to go back. It was time to leave all the warmth, love, and camaraderie back and return to work. I felt weak. I cried in my bathroom or in the room which has temple in it facing God asking Him to take care of my parents and to keep them away from any worry. Coming back from holidays has always been tough for me, but this time it seemed tougher. Life gives and takes so much. Even with so much of maths that I have done, I am yet to understand and formulate the equation of life.