A Lesson Through the Eyes of Art

A meaningful life – this is what we look for in art, in its smallest dewdrops as in its unleashing of the tempest. We are at peace when we have found it and uneasy when we have not.-Bjornstjerne Bjornson

I still remember the chilly Wednesday afternoon back in 2012, when Peaceworks—an initiative of The Seagull Foundation for the Artswas first introduced to me. The unique concept and the work—telling stories—attracted me the most. Well, when something attracts me I try to get myself involved in it and after four-and- a- half years I am still associated with PeaceWorks, in whatever little way I can contribute to the programme.

Share Stories Open Minds is a project under the PeaceWorks umbrella that uses the powerful art of storytelling with children from underprivileged backgrounds.  This project is completely volunteer based and is run in partnership with the Kolkata police project Nabadisha and non profits like Women’s Interlink Foundation, Anandan and Hamari Muskan. The volunteers associated with Peaceworks come from all walks of life- school/college students, teachers, home-makers, corporate professionals and the like. They share one hour from their busy schedules every week to conduct storytelling sessions in different parts of the city.

The project aims to take stories, something that many of us take for granted, to children who may not have access to them. Storytelling is a powerful tool, which sparks the imagination of the listener, stimulates critical thinking skills and encourages children to think about topics and ideas without actually imposing it on them!

The Share Stories Open Minds project also involves art and theatre. Every now and then the volunteers conduct an art session with the children. The theme might be connected to the stories that they have heard, or one based on the community they live in and so on. The children are given complete freedom when it comes to how they want to present their art and what medium they wish to use. Sometimes classes on origami and mask making are held. These artworks are displayed in the annual storytelling festival- GolpoMela. Theatre sessions are also conducted in the centres where the children put up short skit, which they write themselves or adapt from sources and present to an audience under the guidance of their teachers/ volunteers. The Share Stories Open Minds project also hosts various workshops for the volunteers so that they can revise their skills of storytelling and learn new techniques to incorporate in their sessions.

This year, PeaceWorks is privileged to welcome Performers Without Borders, to perform for the children of the Amherst Police Station centre on March 29, 2017 from 3:30 pm onwards. They will show that storytelling can be done in a variety of ways. Performers Without Borders are a travelling group of performing artists who believe in the power of performing arts as an important tool of learning and inculcating values. They work with children in India, Nicaragua and Kenya and have been teaching circus in India for nine years. Many of the children they have worked with and taught have gone on, in turn, to teach others their skills.

For more information regarding the Share Stories Open Minds Project you can connect over social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

If you would like to be a part of the project then you can contact PeaceWorks at peaceworks@seagullindia.com.

My First Liebster Award

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This post is way different from what I usually post about. This is not a travel post and for the first time I have been nominated for the Liebster Awards by a fellow travel blogger at Not All Things Touristy!. I thank her for this nomination and  recommend you guys to check out her blog . So, the Liebster Award is given to bloggers by the blogging community in order to praise their hard work in this field as well as to get to know them better. In this post, as per the rules of the Awards I would have to answer ten questions asked to me by my nominator, nominate ten blogs on my behalf and request them to answer some questions about themselves.

Here are the questions that she asked me :

Where are you from and where are you currently based out of?

I am from Kolkata, India and currently I am in Manchester, UK for higher studies.

 

What inspired you to start blogging?

 A combination of love for travelling, photography and writing motivated me to start my own travel blog. Also, the fact that before I started my blog I used to read other travel blogs and was in full awe of them.

 

For blogging, do you feel more creative at day or night?

 I don’t really have a suitable time when the words come to me. It can be at midnight or even while watching a movie on a similar subject that I would blog about.

 

Are you active on other social media platforms? Which ones?

 I am active on three main social media platforms:

Instagram: subhadrika007

Twitter: @sensubhadrika

Facebook: (Page) www.facebook.com/trekkersoftheeast

 

What are your must haves before you start blogging? (What kind of environment do you prefer for blogging?)

 I need to have my laptop, a diary to scribble and plan out the post, a pen (of course J ), pamphlets of places I have been to so that I can add in more information for future travellers. There should be strictly no noise in the room because I work best in a quiet atmosphere.

 

Do you have a particular favourite blogger?

 I don’t really have any particular favourite blogger. I like to brose through travel blogs mostly and other genres life lifestyle and food.

 

Would you like to pursue blogging as a full-time career eventually?

 I don’t think so, because I want to be a journalist. My professional priority would always be journalism and second to that would be my travel blog.

 

Have you ever attended a blogger’s meet-up in person?  Tell us more if you have.

No. I have never attended a bloggers meet up.

 

What are the top three things/places in your bucket list and why?

  1.  Vatican City- I can lose myself in the beautiful architecture of the Pantheon and the other churches. It has been on my list for a long time.
  2. Benaras/ Varanasi- Something about the evening arati (prayers) on the banks of River Ganga draw me towards this place. Although this might soon be struck off from my bucket list as I have a trip planned.
  3. Austria- ever since I have seen the hills and landscapes of ‘Sound of Music’ it has been on my list.

Tell us about your best/worst travel experience till date?

My best travel experience was a travel vacation I took recently to Wales with friends. It was liberating and culturally uplifting having met tourists from all places and corners of the world. We met, chatted and shared our travel experiences with each other knowing that we might never meet again in this world.

My worst travel experiences are always with the transport delays. In Jaipur my flight was on hold for nearly eight hours and I reached Kolkata ultimately at 4 am. In Manchester, my train to Lake District did not have a coach and I travelled for two hours standing.

 

Furthermore, here are my nominations:

1. Zishan Asad

2.GoBeyondbounds

3.Faded Spring

4.DecoPix

5.Vagrants of the World

6.Ana’s World

7.The Stylish Voyager

8.Siniciliya

9.The World in My Pocket

10.A Busy Bees Life

 

Here are my ten questions to my nominees:-

  1. Please introduce yourselves and your blog.
  2. Describe how did you first get into blogging?
  3. Who/What has impacted you most in blogging and how?
  4. Do you have any favourite bloggers?
  5. How would you rate your blog out of ten?
  6. If there was one thing you would want to change about your blog, what would it be?
  7. What are your future plans with your blog?
  8. Tell us about your best and worst blogging experience till date?
  9. Which Social Networking Platforms are you active on?
  10. If not blogging, what can we find you doing most of the time?

 

I would request my nominees to follow the rules of this award and nominate other lovely bloggers so that each one feel recognised for the hard work that they put in to maintain their great blogs. I would eagerly wait to read their responses. As for me, I will be back soon with another one of my adventures next week.

Remembering 100 Years of Somme

What has notably been named as one of the Bloodiest Battles in the History of the British Army, The Battle of Somme was fought from 1st July to 18th November 1916 . This war was fought between the British and the French army on one side and the German army on the other. It is believed that over one million people were killed or wounded in this battle; around 19, 250 men died on one day alone; turning the battlefield into a river of blood. The battle is notable for the importance of air power and the first use of the tank.

Today, on the 1st of July, Manchester commemorated a 100 years since that dreadful day which snatched many sons, husbands, brothers and fathers from the people of Britain . All over the UK various services and parades were held marking a hundred years of the battle. In Manchester, the Service commenced by laying  wreaths in St. Peter’s Square, followed by a parade from Albert Square to Manchester Cathedral where another memorial service was to take place in the evening. Friends and families of those who had fought and lost a lot in the battle, were given the opportunity to make their personalised remembrances which would then be put together and finally offered at the Heaton Park Memorial . Heaton Park used to serve as a military training ground in those days; thus it would deem fit for the remembrances to be laid down there. 

The service at St Peter’s Square started at 1:30 pm. It was attended by George Osborne, Lord Mayor of Manchester – Carl Austin- Behan, Bishop of Manchester – Revd David Walker, Royal British Legion Chaplain- Rt. Revd. James Newcome ,  Bishop of Salford – Rt Revd, John Arnold . dignitaries from various consulates and a military band. Gun Fires marked and concluded a two minutes silence for the event. The event was live streamed by the BBC. 

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Live Streaming of St Peter’s Square Commemoration
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St Peter’s Square 

Thereafter a small parade was organised which originated from the Town Hall and concluded in Manchester Cathedral. Not only was the military and the brass bands a part of this parade; but also those whose descendants fought in the war took part in it. 

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Inspecting the grounds before the parade began 
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Albert Square, Town Hall
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The Parade Begins
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Hundreds Await The Parade 

 

 

The Battle of Somme indeed formed a part of the horrific and dark history of the British Army.Nevertheless, one cannot forget that those who laid down their lives did so to bring glory to their nation and a better future for the next generation. Thus,we must always salute their courage and bravery and uphold their strong ideals of patriotism and nationalism . 

 

 

Just So Easter Things

Easter has always been a regular holiday for me . It meant nothing more than a sigh of relief amidst  long hours of school and college. But, this year it was different. A fortnight before Easter, markets were put up. Markets which were buzzing of  people, all of whom were either window shopping or buying gifts for their loved ones. a special range of chocolates were launched especially for Easter. Ranging from Easter bunnies (which somehow I could not eat; given my love for cute bunnies), and easter eggs to chocolate buttons and chocolate egg mousse; all of which were available in various shapes and sizes and in different types of chocolates. I did however get some chocolate bunny faces for my families (with sincere apologies to all the bunnies of this world). 

This festive season ushers in a four days long holiday including bank holidays on Good Friday and Easter Monday. Most churches hold special mass on Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion of Christ. But I went for lunch with my family to Rusholme (which has been covered before ).  to be honest, we went to Deansgate, but finding all restaurants closed, we switched plans . Many restaurants work on any evening shift here, that is, from 4 O’ Clock onwards. at times, restaurants shift their regular timings due to festivals. Thus, it would be wise to have a look at their websites before going on special occasions. But, my trip to Deansgate did not go waste. I managed to catch some nice frames . 

Blooming Daffodils. . . . . (Reminds me of Wordsworth )
Blooming Daffodils. . . . .
(Reminds me of Wordsworth )

Thereafter a good Indian lunch at Rusholme followed. The evening ended in Piccadilly Gardens , where the beautiful weekend markets were set up. These markets have a variety of delicious foods, cupcakes, breads and the lot. The tempo of the atmosphere increased when some street performers started entertaining the people around. The beats of their drums enthralled the young and the old. Here is a video that I recorded of them. 

A little further on near Market Street another amazing and enticing performance greeted me. This video says it all. 

A real quick plan at 10 O’clock Saturday night was arranged with a friend for Sunday morning. On Sunday morning, Manchester looked like a Ghost Town. Very few buses plied and there were even fewer people on the road. Nevertheless, we went to the Lowry Outlet near MediaCity UK. The Lowry Outlet had lots of great food stalls spread across the entire mall. The Chocomania was arranged especially for children , who had to embark upon a trail throughout the mall and collect the Golden Ticket to enter the Chocolate World (Much like Willy Wonka isn’t it? 😛 ).

Chocomania organised by The Lowry Outlet near MediaCity UK
Chocomania organised by The Lowry Outlet near MediaCity UK
A Trip to Wonka's Chocolate Factory anyone???
A Trip to Wonka’s Chocolate Factory anyone???

Here, I would like to make a special mention  to Chula’s Cup Cakes. Not only were the cup cakes amazing but the Macaroons stole my heart. With up to 20 flavours of Cupcakes and more than 7 flavours of Macaroons anyone would be spoiled for choice.

Pretty Little cupcakes by Chula's Cup Cakes
Pretty Little cupcakes by Chula’s Cup Cakes
Assorted Cup Cakes
Assorted Cup Cakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delicious Macaroons
Delicious Macaroons

Here is a glimpse of some of the other stalls in The Lowry. 

Handmade Cheese . Yummy !!!
Handmade Cheese . Yummy !!!
Belgian chocolate Marshamallow Cups
Belgian chocolate Marshamallow Cups
Belgian Chocolate Strawberry Cups
Belgian Chocolate Strawberry Cups

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candies and Chocolates
Candies and Chocolates
Assorted Tit-Bits
Assorted Tit-Bits
More Candies and Chocolates . . . . .
More Candies and Chocolates . . . . .

 

 

 

 

 

More Tit-Bits
More Tit-Bits

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day ended happily amidst periodical spells of rain and sunlight. Though Easter ends, the festive season would not, at least not for me. In coming days I would be visiting one of the most beautiful cities of the world and the excitement of visiting the city (Guess which city) is nothing less than a festival in itself.  

Happy Easter to all my readers 🙂 . Hope you had a great Weekend!! 

 

The Indian Wedding Diaries

The Indian (read Bengali) wedding is an elaborate ceremony. The preparation time for this day, starts months in advance. From getting a priest to decide upon a ‘Muhrat‘ or perfect date and time of the wedding, to booking the wedding venue weeks in advance; needs a lot of running around to be done. On top of that, one has to print invitation cards;  buy the wedding saree and jewellery (which is mostly gold ); book the caterers and fix an elaborate dinner menu; go door to door inviting guests (mostly done by the bride and groom’s parents ); buy clothes for the families of the bride and groom and the list goes on. 

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As the wedding day comes nearer, the brides family gets really busy in decorating the ‘Totto‘ or items that the bride takes along with her to her new house. Some of these items include clothes, gifts for each of the family members, fruits, food items and sweets. These are decorated in beautiful trays and given to the grooms house. 

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Photo Courtesy: Internet 

Thereafter, it becomes a taboo for the bride and the groom to see each other before their wedding hour. 

A day before the wedding (or in some cases few days before the wedding) the bride celebrates her ‘Ai Buro Bhaat’ which is a ritual where the bride’s mother cooks delicious food for her. It is basically like a feast that her mother gives to her before giving her away to her husband. 

ai buru bhaat

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On the wedding day, the custom of applying turmeric to the bride and the groom takes place separately in their houses. The friends and family of the two gather around them and apply turmeric on their face to wish them luck for their future with their better half. This ceremony is called ‘Gaye Holud’ or ‘Haldi’ (Haldi and Holud stands for turmeric in Hindi and Bengali respectively).

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The main rituals start with the to-be mother-in-law welcoming the groom . Thereafter the bride is carried on a ‘piri’ (flat wooden bench) by her brothers and uncles. She has to hold betel leaves in both hands to cover her face while she is rotated around her to-be husband. After she is put down (much to the relief of the brothers and uncles 😛 ), the ‘mala bodol’ or the exchange of the garlands takes place. 

In some marriages the Registry Marriage takes right after this ceremony or in some cases, Registry Marriage precedes the Social Marriage. 

Thereafter, the priest begins chanting the special ‘mantras’ (chants) for the wedding. 

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To cut a long story short, after the priest has evoked our forefathers and asked for their blessings, in what seems to me like a tedious forty-five minutes to an hour of chanting, the bride has to be given away to the groom. Like most weddings, the parents perform this ritual and in some exceptional cases, an uncle or an older brother performs the ‘Kanyadaan’ – Giving away of the daughter. A symbol of this is the knot tied at the end of the bride’s saree and the groom’s dupatta. 

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Fire is one of the most powerful elements of Nature.

Fire is Beauty! Fire is Humility !

Fire is Fury! Fire is Illumination! 

Fire is the Silent Observer of the Happenings of the Universe!

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Thus, it becomes very apt that the wedding vows are taken in front of the holy fire, making it the pure but silent observer of the sacred union. Only after the ‘Saptapadi‘ or the wedding vows have been taken by both the bride and the groom through going around the fire seven times , is a wedding complete. Seven , stands for  the seven vows that are taken by the pair . Translating the seven vows into english, they stand as the following:

  • I will love, cherish and provide for you and our children. You will support me and offer me food.
  • Together we will defend our family and home.
  • We will be faithful to each other and lead a spiritual life.
  • I declare my good fortune in marrying my wife. We pray for a happy life and good children filled with all health and wealth.
  • We for the happiness and wellbeing of our family. May we have righteous and obedient children.
  • I will always be by your side in your endeavors.
  • With this last Phera we forever belong to each other and will remain friends forever…

Translation Courtesy:  http://goo.gl/DDYgsr

After the ‘Saptapadi‘of the ‘Saat Phera‘ the groom applies vermillion on the brides hair-parting. With that they are declared to be in the holy union until death does them apart.

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After all the hard work and tension from both the sides and especially the throbbing heart of the bride (and maybe the groom ) the wedding is complete and the pair is declared man and wife.  Oh and this is a photo of ‘Kheer er Bor Bou’ which means the bride and the groom made of puffed rice; and yes you can actually eat them after the ceremony is over 😛 ! Just don’t eat their costumes. Those are not edible! 

Most of the photographs have been taken by me, except the ones taken with due credit from the Internet. I took these photographs during the wedding of a relative in Glasgow. To maintain the privacy of the people in the photographs , I have not mentioned names and I hope you, as readers, would respect this decision of mine. Thank You. 🙂 

Though there are many other rituals after the marriage has taken place, I would not be going to that depth in my post. Hence, I am ending this post with a very special photograph that I took during a wedding in Glasgow some days back ; and a post about some wonderful sights in Glasgow is coming really soon. Do let me know what you feel about the institution of marriage and the rituals taking place in it, in the Bengali tradition. I would be most happy if you want to leave a comment. Thanks. 🙂

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A Regular Rainy Day in Manchester

In Manchester , the weather is almost always the same. It is either always raining or very cold winds blowing outside. In fact, having a sunny day is a blessing , a boon that everyone looks forward to but gets very rarely throughout the year. A regular person’s constant companions are long coats, mufflers, gloves, hats/caps, umbrellas and raincoats.

Most of my friends have asked me for photographs of a rainy day. To be very very honest, I feel quite frozen to go out in such a weather and take photographs. So, what I try to do is take them from my apartment. Here is a collection of such photographs on a rainy day. These photographs have been taken over a period of one week and at different times of the day to highlight the landscape during the rainy weather.

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Work goes on, here in Manchester. No matter if it is raining or sunny.  People go about doing their daily activities without paying much attention to the weather. They are always equipped with umbrellas, raincoats, hooded jackets, mufflers and gloves.

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A seemingly deserted parking lot in the vicinity. This parking lot with two to three cars is for a common parking space where people park cars for a certain amount of time per day. For instance, people who drive to the Northern Quarters park their cars in such shared parking spaces and then while leaving pay a certain amount as parking charge. The less number of cars in shared parking space shows people prefer to stay indoors during rainy weekends. Further more, the row of cars in front, are allotted parking spaces for people powning cars in the adjoining building. With more cars parked there, it is clear that people prefer staying indoors.

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This is a shot of the main road. Such an empty road is not usually seen in Manchester. There are no people waiting to cross the road looking left and right for cars; and there are no cars on the road is an unusal sight (And certainly not one that I prefer!)

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This is a reflection of a tree right under my window. I was just trying to fool around with my camera when I shot it. 

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My next door neighbour’s cat. All he does the whole day is stare at something outside the window. I can understand why he does that when the birds are nearby. Interestingly, whenever it rains, he is absent from the window sill. Truly, cats do hate water, even from the other side of closed windows :P.

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Since I have come to Manchester, I have already spotted at least 7 rainbows. So, everytime you see it has stopped raining do not forget to quickly scan the sky, maybe you could end up spotting such beautiful rainbows too!

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Taken right outside my apartment, this rain washed street really caught my attention.

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A photograph taken when the rain was at its prime. It was around 4 pm. (Yes, it gets that dark by 4 pm here)

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Rainwashed street right below my window.Though this is cycling lane, I have never seen anyone cycling here !

REFLECTIONS OF A FESTIVE MIND

While everybody is busy immersing themselves in the slokas of Birendra Krishna Bhadra, I happen to be planning about editing my assignments and submitting them on time. For the last 15 years Pujo has been an essential part of my life. Every year, whether it be in school or in college Pujo for me used to start a month earlier than it was actually scheduled to take place. Right from going to Pujo shopping with my mother and excitedly discussing what my friends and I bought and from where to which place had great outfits in reasonable price or which brand was giving heavy discounts, none of these talks ever evaded us in Kolkata. 

All three years of my college life, there was a specific date reserved for lunch with my school friends. Ashtami was always earmarked for the yearly get together of a crazy trio (including me). 
In fact as the days of the Pujo came nearer, news always reached me which pandal was being made of what and we started planning with our friends to visit those pandals. One day was of course reserved for pandal hopping with my family.

Instant plans were also made when we were out of plans.I still remember a friend (as adventurous as me) calling me up in the morning saying that there is still one day of the pujo left and we had no plans. So it was decided we cant let this happen and met in an hour to enjoy the one day left before bhashaan.


Residing in an area which is the hotspot of Durga Puja in South Calcutta it is impossible to not miss it. In Bengali people say ‘Ashche Bochor Abar Hobe‘ to reiterate that there would be double the fun next year. But I would say ‘Ashche Bochor Hotei Hobe‘ to console myself by saying that next year I will have to make it for the Pujas. 

Here in Manchester there are a few places that host Pujas. But I would call it a silent festival as there are no Dhaakis to announce the onset of the Festival; there are no children playing the drums constantly near your ears; babies in the laps of their parents do not take to the blowing whistles , the noise of which starts blowing your mind after a certain while; there are no colourful balloons in the air and neither are there bubbles reflecting the colourful environment.Hardly do even a hundred people gather around for the celebrations.

But nevertheless, probably it would turn out that staying away from home and the festival for a year will make me enjoy it in a grand scale next year. So, I leave you guys with best wishes for this Pujo and a very advance Subho Bijoya . Hope you guys enjoy this year and some of you are kind enough to send some photographs (Wink). The photographs used in this post are from my archives of previous year’s Pujo. 





OFF TO A NEW CITY : MANCHESTER DIARIES

Life takes a different turn when you decide to relocate to another country. Apart from the feeling of missing your house, bedroom, study table, friends and other objects of interests, you have to face the herculean task of facing what’s waiting for you in the new country.  The people, the landscapes, the language, everything changes . Most importantly you have to start establishing connections and make friends all over again. But, this is part of your journey . In fact, I believe that relocation does not only correspond to physically moving to another place but mentally moving yourself and adapting to the newness of the place.

Most know why I am talking about relocation but for those who are unaware it is because I am having to go through the task of adjusting and settling down in Manchester after having taken the decision of relocating here for a year to complete my higher studies.

Manchester is one of the most beautiful places I have seen, not because geographically it is picturesque but also because the people play an immense role in making it look beautiful. The city flourishes because of the people who live in- Courtesy seems to be everyone’s middle name. The smiling and cheerful faces even on the rainiest and darkest days in this city can brighten up anybody’s day . 

To be really honest I have not been around the town in my sightseeing mode so as to start describing the city ; but there are some photogenic places which I have been able to capture at this stage through my lens. So, the photos in this post can best be considered as a prelude to what is to come. 


With new experiences and friends in this cosmopolitan city, hardly will there be a day when I would not have anything to share with you. But as of now I would leave you with some photographs so that you get an idea of what is to come in the following days.

TOWN HALL MANCHESTER NEAR THE CITY COUNCIL

EMPTY BENCHES NEAR THE TOWN HALL

BEAUTIFUL AND COLOURFUL  TREES OUTSIDE (SOMEBODY’S) WINDOW
RANDOM STREET PHOTO

STREET SHOT OUTSIDE MY WINDOW

STREET SHOT OUTSIDE MY WINDOW


CLOUDS OUTSIDE MY WINDOW

Travel, Memories and Me

Travel has no real meaning without memories collected from experiences. This post as the name suggests, is on a very personal terms, where I try to recall and relive the memories gathered from various travels. Of course, while some were made with friends most were embarked upon with family. I do not wish to hinder the privacy of any person and thus the names are strictly withheld. But the memories which are shared by many would surely make them remember their part in it. This post is a rather different listicle than I have ever made till date; and I do so because most of us are on a verge of starting a new life- joining work, pursuing masters, maybe even getting married (who knows!). This may well be the last time before we hear of many until we meet in person years later.

So, let us begin!

1. I remember having gone to Shantiniketanwith school friends for a project. Though the project itself took us only three hours of field work (and God knows how many months of analysis and factory manufacturing of graphs later); the rest of the time was free to explore the place. The excitement of travelling with friends (maybe for the first  and last time) started our day with some of us actually forgetting to bid goodbyes to our parents (me included).Upon reaching the place, all of us were most interested in taking in the air of a new place and enjoying a part of the authentic culture of West Bengal. We visited a park- played bowling, took some groupfies(the term wasn’t very popular then), and caught our teacher lying flat on the grass trying to capture some insect which had camouflaged itself in the grass. The next morning a dear friend was greeted by a monkey and I, well saw someone rather good looking outside my window. Well, I cannot miss out on the great food that we had especially snacks (at least I had never had such tasty veg pakodas in my life before and sadly never after too). The evenings were spent working on our project, sharing ghost stories and one distinct night we indulged in a sleepover. Most of us are in different parts of India today, but I am sure that these memories of our trip together (and also a promise to have a reunion ten years later in 2021) would always bind us with an invisible chord.


2. Mandarmani has been covered at large in the blog previously, but here are some more tit-bits which actually made the trip so interesting. This trip was made immediately after my higher secondary examinations and involved my family members. We had a quite uneventful journey except some constant blabbering from the driver regarding the choice of  songs that I played on the mobile phone. Our first day spent in the beach passed quickly. We admired the beauty of the place. My grandmother started talking to the people of the hotel. We found out the timings when there would be no electricity and planned to leave for sightseeing during those times. I also spotted a couple (maybe honeymooning, who knows) wearing  matching clothes at all times. Evening came, and our super smart driver instead of taking us to the local shops drove us straight to the fish market and got the tyres stuck in a quicksand! The rest of the evening was spent in telephoning the reception to fix our AC till both we and they got equally irritated of it and replaced it altogether. Oh and I missed the shell collecting part! The next day saw my uncle hastily entering our room while my aunt and I were playing (cards probably) to say that he had been calling my aunt many a times but she had not picked up. She replied calmly that the phone was on silent mode and thereafter he left. I spoke aloud just then that he actually did not say the purpose with which he was calling though he came and asked why she did not pick up the phone! That apart there were no memorable incidents and after a two night stay we reached home safely and I was indeed happy with the trip and to get rid of the fidgety driver.


3.  The first time I went to Delhi was in 2009 and I fell in love with the place. The ambience is such that every nook and corner of the city reminds you of an era of royalty. Our first destination was the Rajghatwhere I almost burnt my feet. The second was the Red Fort where I almost fell down in the moat below. It is said that in the Mughal era, the moat was filled with crocodiles .I thanked my lucky stars that I did not fall on a moat full of crocs! Let me also hint, that this isn’t the first and last time I was about to fall on a moat. Looks like I have a magnetic pull towards moats of all forts. The usual sightseeing followed with Lotus Temple, Street Shopping, Birla Temple, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar. I distinctly remember the name of the hotel we had lunch in –Art Chillies. Delhi Haat was reserved for some shopping. In fact we had such a friendly driver this time, that he actually influenced us to change our train schedule to Mussoorie, the next day to another road trip to the place. (But it was not altogether a bad idea!)

4. My visit to Mussoorie deserves special mention. I was practically dragged out of bed- a groggy eyed me – at 3:30 am by my mother. All of us were up and ready by 6 am. It was to be a long trip and we were to start as early as possible. But we got delayed. Apparently, the driver was not informed that we were to reach Mussoorieand so he backed out. But, the hotel staffs were cordial enough to get hold of another chap who took us. We stopped for breakfast at nine at a place in the highway (the name of the inn quite evades me) but I never knew highway food could be so tasty. We resumed our journey through sugarcane fields, a very rocky stretch of road near Ghaziabadand lastly hit the mountains. We stopped for lunch at the foothills and then continued. On our way back a day later we proceeded towards Haridwar before going back to Delhi.

5. My next trip to Delhi (2014) was just a stopover to check on a relative and then proceed towards Agra the very same day. But, the day happened to be the oath taking ceremony of PM Narendra Modi. Delhiwas jam packed and so we were diverted to Jaipur for a halt till the Delhiairport got cleared. We were already delayed by a long time. Nevertheless, we resumed our journey checked on our relative and proceeded towards Agra. The next morning finally ended my patience of 19 years to look upon the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort (where I  was about to fall in the moat again !). The evening was reserved for shopping. But  Agra is an expensive place. The handicrafts are best to look at for people like me. For those who know me, they might recall the fact that a baby donkey, which I was trying to photograph, did not appear very polite and its push nearly wrecked my camera.


6. The same journey continued the day after to Jaipurstopping en- route to Fatehpur Sikhri and Salim Chisti. I had great fun riding  a local shared auto which is quite different from the ones found in Kolkata. It is more colourful and spacious. Of course thereafter inside the monuments I burnt my feet . A little kid started stalking us inside Salim Chisti repeatedly saying that he would recite poetry for ten rupees. Finally after seeing the monument we heard his poetry, gave him some money and bid him goodbye.

7. Jaipur was my favourite amongst the lot. The feel of Rajasthan is something different and invokes in me an excitement that no other place has managed to invoke. Chouki Dhani a village resort is a must visit for those who haven’t seen it. That apart I visited the usual places. The best part of the place was our hotel. It was built on the upper storeys of a shopping mall. The food was nothing less than that of 5 star hotels. The only thorn in the entire trip was the return journey when our Kolkata bound plane got delayed by almost six hours .


8. Asansol was my last family trip taken in December 2014. This trip also had our neighbours join in. Actually, it was on the insistence of my friend and me that our parents took this short journey. The first blow was when my father’s flight got delayed and we had to shift the entire schedule by a day. We were to start early in the morning but got delayed because I slept on. I was woken up by my friend at 5 am but then I got back to sleep and was late by almost an hour. We visited Maithon and Kalyaneshwari Temple. The next day just as we were about to start our journey – the car broke down. It took around an hour to get it fixed. We saw Panchet and so excited were we to reach our next destination that we forgot all about lunch. At nearly 2 pm we remembered , abandoned our destination , started food hunting and got something to eat nearly an hour later. The rest of the journey was quite smooth and on our way home we stopped at Saktigarh to buy Langchas –which are my favourite sweets. The days ahead were filled with my examination and were quite boring.


This post is probably the longest I have ever written but what is the fun of reiterating memories if not explained in details? Keep following for more such experiences, memories and travel accounts. 

The Decadence of Tradition

The City Of Joy has many hidden treasures which are rarely explored in the fever of modernism which has broken over the entire world. These traditional art forms are  famous only in rural Bengal. In fact this is the only method of survival and occupation , these families have been involved in for generations and thus till today their daily bread is earned through such art forms.Though many are found all over Bengal, I would be highlighting only five such decaying folk forms.

5# Chau Dance is a popular folk dance in Orissa , Jharkhand and West Bengal . Mostly seen in Purulia it is performed by the tribal communities of Munda, Bhol, Sahoo to name a few. This folk art has three different components – music provided by the Mukhis, Kalindis etc; masks made by ace artisans of the Sutradhar,Maharanas or the Mohapatra clan and the dancers. Chau dance itself has variations depending on its origin- Purulia chau, Mayurbhanj chau and Seraikella Chau. Interestingly Mayurbhanj chau is the only folk form which does not make use of any masks. The dance itself is a blend of martial arts and traditional dance steps.In 2010 Chau dance was honoured by UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible cultural Heritage of Humanity. Special measures have been taken by the Government of Orissa to look into the preservation of this art form. But sadly in Bengal, it is a dying art.

CHAU MASK

CHAU DANCERS
4#  Bhawaiya is a traditional music form popular in Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Darjeeling and North Bangladesh. These places came under the state of Kamtapur in older days . Hence, the Kamptapuri language is also used while singing the songs. The biggest performers of this art were those associated with the Rajbari of Kamtapur. However , today, these songs have spread to all communities living in the area. In fact many Bhawaiya songs have been adapted in Bengali cinema. The music in this folk form reflects a typical tone of natural, environmental, ethnic phonetic and topographical influence.

3#  Alkap is one of the primitive ways of mass communication. It was originally used to raise awareness regarding social issues and taboos. But today the original form of Alkap which included men dressing up as women, musicians singing songs and sexual connotations , is becoming extinct. It is replaced by Bengali film songs and women taking part in this form of performing art. The participants are divided to put forward arguments in support and against the social cause to communicate it to the people. However due to lack of interest and finance this art is rarely seen today.
ALKAP IN PROGRESS
2#  Gombhira which originated in the Nawabganj region is a another folk form of increasing social awareness through music and songs. It is distinct as it is performed by two males playing the role of a son and his maternal grandfather . Sometimes this art is also accompanied by masked dancers who enact the verses in the song.
MASKED DANCERS

GETTING READY FOR A PERFORMANCE
1#  Bhatiali are traditional boat songs which fishermen and boatmen sing while they are on their journey in the river. Bhatiali mostly deals with descriptions of Nature from those who are living in close harmony with nature. Influence of this form of music is found on the ghats of Brahmaputra in West Bengal and Bangladesh.

PAINTING OF BHATIALI SINGERS
These forms of art are becoming rare and extinct in contemporary times . Probably the instruments and technologies of modernism is to be blamed for this. With people remaining glued to television and cell phones, they neither have the time nor the interest to spare a thought about traditional art. There are a few heritage fairs in the city where performers from all parts of the State come in to showcase their talents; however, they have less audience and also the number of traditional groups that come in are decreasing year after year.The good news is many theatre groups, NGOs and private organisations are trying to revive these traditional art forms. It is a venture which I personally support and encourage everyone to support for tradition is a guide for a better future.