This is a diary and account of the extremely ordinary happenings that occur in my life in Kolkata. We (Me, my husband and 7 year old daughter) live in a quiet, leafy neighbourhood in Kolkata. We moved back to India after spending ten years in the US. Be prepared for some moaning and groaning because as you will see – life in Kolkata has its fair share of ups and downs.
Sunday, 17th November 2019
I write this on a pleasant Sunday, as pools of afternoon sunshine, like liquid amber, make patterns on the soft brown of old wooden furniture.
We’ve lived in our new flat for a month and a half now and it seems like we’ve been here forever.
The crows are cawing in a staccato beat and a soft breeze undulates the leaves on the trees. Kolkata is at peace after another very hot summer and steamy monsoon. The anticipation of cooler winter months ahead brings such delight, like an intangible gift-wrapped present.
I decided to set up this daily diary amidst great fervour late last night, in the hope that it will help me to put pen to paper more often. One needs to start somewhere…
Monday, 18th November 2019
Before we leave home for our walk to the school bus stop in the morning, Meli announces that it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Don’t you just love the excitement and build up to Christmas. Especially feels wonderful when you are a child with the anticipation of gifts, food and good times with family. I have Mr Buble trilling in good voice on my iPhone speaker at the bus stop. Receive a few curious glances from Kolkatan passers by who might not get it. Such is the weird juxtaposition of having lived a very full, international life and then settling down to provinciality.
There’s a nip in the air quite early in the morning now, that dulls to a hazy heat at midday. The evenings draw in at 5 pm and it feels comforting to close the curtains and shut out the darkness. There’s something so melancholy about winter evenings out of doors. Lighting soft lamps inside helps to bring cheer along with warming cups of aromatic milk tea.
Tuesday, 19th November 2019
I went to the local Post Office yesterday with the intent of getting a decent head start on my Christmas gift sending this year.Every year, just about this time, the Post Office man sees me quite frequently. I ask for my packages to be weighed, he counts out a hundred or so stamps (all small denominations) whileI then affix the multitude on large manila envelopes.
I think about all the places the package will see before it arrives at its final destination. There are so many miles between Kolkata and Honolulu. Is it possible to be jealous of an envelope’s adventure’s?
In the meantime, with the ambient temperature dropping there’s been a mad scramble to find the rogue, red school cardigan, which despite my best intentions always manages to hide itself in the unlikeliest corners.
We find it at last in a murky corner of the old steel trunk, reeking of a yearlong tryst with the naphthalene balls.
Wednesday, 20th November 2019
Wednesday heralds the arrival of a new blue sofa-cum-bed for our third bedroom, gloriously called the library. One of the hazards of ordering online is the rude shock one can receive at the total divergence in appearance of said product from that imagined. The larger and more expensive the product – the greater the risk – as you are ‘lumped with it for life’. Thankfully blue sofa met most expectations except for a slender ribbon of grey trim that Meli pronounced as appearing ‘dirty white’. Sofa is wonderfully comfortable and can foresee many hours of no steps being tracked on the pedometer due to inactivity. Currently reading Milton Place by Elisabeth de Waal – a wonderful ode to the English country house. There’s something unsettling about the book. I keep waiting for the unsettling event to happen.
Thursday, 21st November 2019
The day of our housewarming party draws near – Sunday 24th November . The days go by in trying to wash dirty laundry that have snuck inadvertently into corners, tidying cupboards and skillfully trying to disguise little messes.
Take comfort in telling myself that it will all be over soon and I can go back to my slovenly ways. The food should be good – fish fry, mutton curry among others and hopefully the weather co-operates. Must remember to take Meli to singing class tonight.
Friday, 22nd November 2019
Have successfully washed all bedsheets for the big day, although only I know why it is important to have linen cupboard in apple pie order for Sunday (just in case someone wants to have a peek in there…). Will spend today and tomorrow phoning people up to issue reminders about the housewarming. The introvert in me much prefers texting to calling but it is nice to hear voices and exchange pleasantries.
Order 100 small earthenware pots of ‘mishti doi’ (thick set, sweet caramel yoghurt – simply divine) with a Bengali sweet meat called ‘sandesh’ from the local sweet shop and the promise to deliver them to house on Sunday. Am greatly relieved because their management would have been beyond me.
Feeling stressed and excited about the housewarming in equal measure and enlist the help of Raja to clean odd corners in the rest of the house.