Tuesday, 27 November 2012


I did not mention Fairlawn Hotel in the ‘Banglar thhek’ post. Branding Fairlawn as a mere watering hole would be too dissatisfying for its/my ego. The 229 year old is much beyond that.
My brother took me there for the first time. Cheese chicken omelet and beer from the money he earned from his first paid-internship.  These things confuse me, actually. I fail to judge a place objectively when blood ties, love and/or things like first salary get involved.
So, I went there again. And again. Then again.  
Nah, I actually love that place. …way too much.
And, when I thought, I had loved it enough to last for a lifetime, came a box full of surprises. These surprises are like Matryoshka Dolls. You split the doll around its pregnant stomach and find a smaller one. Then, one after the other. Every time you think ‘this is the last one’, comes a tinier doll. Yesterday was a Russian Doll day! :)
The lawn is beautiful. It is also their oh-so-lovely drinking joint. Rice-lights, lush green, smell of beer and cigarettes and people speaking in 10 different languages. Yes, the place is packed with foreigners (like most Sudder Street cafes and pubs are) and you can gladly share tables with any random group you like. Other than the old English feel of the entire place, what I love most here is people-watching. Have you ever watched two people talking from a distance? And played “lets-make-an-imaginary-conversation-between-them” with a friend? Go to Fairlawn. You will not understand half of the languages the visitors are speaking and can play the game endlessly.

I asked the waiter if we could take a look around. He readily agreed. This was the foremost surprise. I had always thought that, except for boarders, they don’t allow you to enter the inside of the hotel.  But they did! One surprise nested into the belly of another. You open one, follows the other.
I choose to make this one a photo-post. There are times (even in my life!!!) when words fall short. Take a look, why!
Stairway to heaven :)

 Prizes and accolades adorn the wall (they have won six National Awards for excellence in tourism)

  The fair lawn :)
 The Reception
 Waiting area and lounge
 The dinning hall (a full English breakfast is served from 7.30 AM till 10.30 AM every morning). For long, I knew it was a breakfast joint only. Try it. Please?
 The corridor and the rooms
  The drawing room for guests
Same caption as above
 The waiting room (tell me, honestly, wouldn’t you have longed to wait forever if the waiting room was this cute?)
 And the Reading room..
Footnotes and words of wisdom:
1.      Snail mail address: 13/A, Sudder Street, Kolkata - 700 016. (2 and a half minutes from the New Market, 2 minutes from Indian Museum…walking)
2.      They serve beer only. No other alcoholic beverage.
3.      Don’t commit the sin of not trying their omelets.
4.      Go with a camera and a lot of time (these images are hijacked from the internet) :(
5.      Make sure that the friend you are taking along isn’t an hour late.
6.      Trust me, even if he/she is, Fairlawn will make up for it.  

Thursday, 22 November 2012


Winter is approaching in Kolkata.
When I find my lips chapped, I roll my lower lip into my mouth and peel off the dry skin 
with my teeth. During winters, this is one of my favourite activities.
The man enters and stares at me. I returned the favour, still engaged in the favourite 
“Are you trying to seduce me?”
Me: By doing what???
“By doing the Vidya Balan thing she did in the Dirty Picture!”
Me: You are weird.
Yes, he is. Very weird. Like my mother.
When I was in school, I realised that my mother was strange. In my entire school life, she 
never even once asked me to study. NEVER EVER. I found that strange. I felt, to be a little demanding about your child’s academic results was acceptable and infact, normal.

Similar is this man. He is just WITHOUT ANY expectations and that irritates the hell out of me. I wish he would break my favourite bone china dinner set when he finds me talking to a man friend at 1 o’ clock at night, or hand over a questionnaire demanding reasons for my coming back home late or at the most, be terribly possessive and create a lot of drama at the home front. Arrey, if you do not have material demands, atleast demand explanations! But I told you, he is weird. Very weird. Like my mother.

“JD, I am running out of ideas for your Anniversary present. Lend ideas. What do you want?”
“Stop being nyaka and tell me things you DON’T have.”
“Beyond the Crash by Gordon Brown, The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford and socks, 
preferably black.”
“What a paradigm shift in the answers!! Ok, you get the last 3 things you asked for. 
Anything else?”
“Will you learn to cook the mutton, Annapurna cooks? Just like her? Would be a great gift.”

In so many years, apart from one or two Rabindranath songs, this is the ONLY difficult thing he has asked for. I forgot to get jealous of Annapurna (my friend from school). I was too 
overwhelmed to think of anything else.  

“Sure JD, why not?”
I think it was our 4th. He presents me slabs of Dark (very dark) chocolates.
“WHY dark chocolates?”
He: Because you love them.
“Why DARK chocolates?”
He: Because we love them.
He: Because I love them.
“So, you’ve started giving gifts which you like!!! Selfish giant, I don’t want them.”

20 minutes later.
He: You had gifted me a LONELY PLANET last anniversary, remember?
He: You were also looking for the Calvin and Hobbes complete collection on Flipkart to gift me.
He: Have I ever asked you similar questions?
Barring those innumerable instances when I am generally very hassled by his existence, there are moments when he is like this picture.

 A brownish winter afternoon, a large cup of tea, a favourite book, a comfortable couch and a lovely picture on the wall. Bliss!     

If feelings were human beings, this feeling would be him.
About the ‘hassled by his existence’ part:
The man buys me a Saree for Pujo.
I wear it and excitedly show it to him.
“JD, You remember this one?”
A confident YES follows.
“Tell me what it is.”
JD: It is a Saree!! (expecting ‘sahi jabab, aap jit gaye hein 15 laakh….’)
“! ? !”
JD: Yes, it looks like a saree. No?
…… laaaawng silence……
“OK. Ignore the last question. Tell me how am I looking?”
JD: Bhishon hawt!
“Are you serious?” (school girlish giggles)
JD: No.
School girlish giggles fade in oblivion.
One night I had a dream.
I saw a man sitting on a branch of a tree by the side of a river. His face was not clear. But I 
knew that this was THE man. The man I love.
And I found that, with an axe, I was cutting the branch where he sat.
The branch fell down into the river and so did the man. I sat on the bank of the river and 
The God of water appeared. I told him the whole story.
He dived into the water and brought Johnny Depp.
“Is this the man you love?”
I could not remember the face, but I was sure this wasn’t him. I nodded in negative.
He dived into the river again. This time he brought Amitabh Bachchan along with him.
I chose to be honest, though the choice was tempting.
“I don’t think he is the one. Noh”, I said.
Water God dived for the third time and this time it was Uttam Kumar.
“This must be the one”.
“I wish. But no!”, I confessed.
Utterly pleased with my honesty, the Water God went inside the river and brought Joydeep Ghosh.
“I don’t know why, but I am pretty sure he is the one.” I smiled.
While I held hands with the lost-and-found treasure, God called me.
“I know, you are thinking about the woodcutter’s story. And, also wondering why I didn’t 
give you the other three men as a reward for your honesty…”
“Exactly”, I said.
“You will know why….”
God disappeared.

I know why….
The best things in life come in a single piece.
In our last Delhi trip, I noticed a thing about Ma.
Every time, she saw an aeroplane in the sky, she would get ecstatic. She would invariably 
point her fingers towards the sky and shout, “Dekh, dekh, Plane”.
I found it quite juvenile in the beginning. Ma has been riding airplanes since she was a 
child. Then, why such excitement just at the sight of it?

On a second thought, I thanked her (mentally).
Thank you for explaining Ma, why I get butterflies’ somersaults inside my stomach every 
time I see him in the parking lot after a rough day at my office.

Thank you for explaining that some things cannot be explained.

Me: “You are my life’s worst mistake. *******, @#@#, *****^^^^^, @####@, ********, @@@@@@@@, ********, *******, @#@#, *****^^^^^, @####@, ********, @@@@@@@@, ********, *******, @#@#, *****^^^^^, @####@, ********, @@@@@@@@, ********, @@@@@#...
I am going home.”

He: But this is your home.

“*******, @#@#, *****^^^^^, @####@, ********, @@@@@@@@, ********,*******, @#@#, *****^^^^^, @####@, ********, @@@@@@@@, ********,*******, @#@#, *****^^^^^, @####@, ********, @@@@@@@@, ********. I am going.”

He: This is your home. Where will you go?

“In the entire conversation using choicest of words, ‘I am going home’ was the only thing you noticed??

He: That’s the only thing you said that was NOT CORRECT.
THIS is your home. Our home.

Me: “Welcome Mr. Sooraj Barjatya.”

He: No I am serious. This is your house as much as it is mine. If we have fights, you may 
drive me out of the house. But never say this isn’t yours. Fight, but don’t disown. It hurts 
me more than you saying I am your life’s worst mistake.

Invisible violins play the ‘Hum saath saath hein’ tune and well, I laugh, cry and forget that we were fighting a few moments back….
I preserve and flaunt compliments like grandmom’s jewelry. Till date, the Kaahani compliment was the best I ever got. “The Kolkata they showed in the movie was you.” Lump in the throat, goose bumps.
And then, came this one.

“The greatest proof that you are intelligent is Joydeep. Your intelligence is proved beyond doubt by this one choice you’ve made. Where you could score 100 out of 100, you managed a 120 by choosing him.”

I wish compliments could be framed….. : (
The way we met and got to know each other is very filmy. (And terribly exciting)
When asked, I babble about it incessantly, while JD keeps quite or says one or two words. I often think it doesn’t excite him anymore…talking about how we met, that is.
One night, we were playing flashback.
I asked him, “When we have children and you have to tell them ‘How I met your mother’, what will you say?’”
It was again a single word answer.

P.S: OK. I completely made up that woodcutter’s story. That’s a gift I made for you for our Anniversary. Happy 6th, JD!