Showing posts from February, 2014

The Bethrothal

(And my effort to write fiction in the hope of seeing it get published by continues. This one, too, could not make it and hence I am showing the poor article the light of day in my blog. Maybe I should create a new tab ‘Failed Fiction’. Anyways, the clue given by for this month was “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” from Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix, by J.K.Rowling. It reminded me of a little news I had read in India Today way back in the late ‘80s.  Although I was quite young then, it managed to stay with me all these years. So, yeah, this story is based on a true incident.)

Meera woke up just as the local train rumbled past her balcony. “Must be the 6.19 Kalyan local,” she thought, tying up her loose hair. 

“Are you awake, Meera?” her mother’s voice came from the kitchen. “Hustle now, they would be here by 10 o’clock.”

Why, wondered Meera for the umpteenth time. Why had this man agreed …

Revisiting Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is a National Park, UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger Reserve, an Elephant Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve in Assam. Located in the Himalayan foothills, it is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.  

For years, I avoided going to Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, after leaving it in 1988. I have a terrible paranoia of re-visiting memories. What if things, places, people are not what they had seemed long time back? What if the new memories spoil my old ones? The ones that I had cherished like a dream over all these years…

In December 2013, I finally managed to set aside my fears and decided to visit Manas along with my parents and my aunt. Perhaps Deta (my father) had the same apprehensions, too, and it took us some time to persuade him. We set out early for Manas from Guwahati via Nalbari, with the mists still hanging low over golden yellow mustard fields. It was a somber journey, each lost in our thoughts, as we traversed the 150 km…

Lemon Chilli Chicken

Gosh! It has been so long since I wrote anything on food. I have a folder full of food photographs, the recipes of which now escape me. However, I do remember this one, thankfully! 

Monday looms large and I also have to rush to make dinner. So I will make this a very short post. Just the recipe and I will spare you from my ramblings. 

I hope my chilli lemon chicken tickles your taste buds. You have all the liberty to take the recipe to your level of spiciness. Mine is just average, I guess.

Lemon Chilli Chicken
(Inspired by Priyadarshini's Red Chicken)

500 gms chicken, cut into medium sized pieces
2 onions, finely chopped
2 green chilllies, slit lengthwise
1 teaspoon garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Salt to taste
Refined oil for cooking

Roast and grind (use a mortar and pestle, if possible):
4 dry red chillies
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi)
3 teaspoons coriander seeds (dhania)


Heat a little oil in a wok or kadai and tip in the chopped onions, garli…

The sunshine smile...

Image source:
Do you see her smile? It just tore me up to see her smile. She must have been told by the photographer to do that, and she, in all her innocence, would have put her best grin forward. In the hope that she would receive a loan in no time. To pursue her dreams. To bury her pain. To become financially independent and move on with her head held high. 

For, she was a devadasi. An archaic tradition that entailed young girls to serve the Lord all through her life, thus rendering her inadequate in any other skill, or education. These devadasis who had once enjoyed exalted status for being consorts of the Lord, had become lesser mortals with the passage of time, with no means of support and branded with social stigma. On top of it, they had children. Too bad if they were daughters. 

I came across the Milaap Hope project through Indiblogger and as I flipped through profile after profile of women, each afflicted with her own degree of unfortunate-ness, my eyes searched for …

Two cameras, a few kids and a little hope

I am a cynical person. I somehow find it very hard to believe that people will do something without getting anything in return. Even when I worked for Child Relief and You (CRY), I had to try every emotional trick in the book in order to get a single subscription. Finally when I pulled out the ‘tax exemption’ trump card did some people evince interest and made out a little sum for the kids. That short stint with CRY reaffirmed my belief – nobody will write out a single penny for nothing. Throwing a few coins at a beggar, whose profession is begging, is a different issue.

But, inspite of all my cynicism, I am willing to give this a try – the project Do Right. What shook my staunch belief? This, a video put up on the website.

And why was I so much moved by it? Because, I have a two year old son who loves to take photographs. I can never take out my digicam without the little one reaching out his tiny hands towards it. After a few half-hearted ‘Nos’ I would give in to his pleading liquid…

Manas & Movies: Rhino (Part 2)

I shall never forget the way sis and I had screamed when the lights dimmed in the theatre and the movie ‘Rhino ’came on screen. Screams of unrestrained delight. Of surprise. Today, there is no way I can convey my feelings of that day – the thrill that travelled down our spines on seeing our own bungalow on the big screen, our lives in Manas being played out in the movie…

Rhino was the second film after Manas Kanya to have been filmed in Manas Wildlife Sanctuary during the years that I spent there. Unlike Manas Kanya, I have much sharper memories of Rhino although I was not present in Manas during its shooting. It was shot in Manas in 1987 and released in 1989. The story of three kids foiling rhino poaching attempts was based on Arup Kumar Dutta’s The Kaziranga Trail and went on to win the National Award for the best children’s movie (I think). The movie was produced by Children's Film Society, India.

A still from the movie (Image credit:
The movie’s story was set in Kazira…

Manas and Movies (Part 1)

If you were born in the early 80’s or maybe late 70’s would you remember a children’s film, produced by Children’s Film Society India, by the name ‘Rhino’? I think it was released in 1989. Maybe you have not even heard about it. But that was the second time I had come close to a movie filmed in Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, my home for nine years.

The first time? That was an Assamese movie Manas Kanya (daughter of Manas), based on the novel ‘Neela Parir Saree’ (The Blue-bordered Saree). I was around 5 years old then and do not remember much. The author Ganesh Das, a prominent journalist in that part of the world and our family friend, was behind the film’s story, too. I remember watching the film on TV (Doordarshan) much later after its release, on the regional slot. Ma had sat beside me, telling me little anecdotes behind the movie’s making. She remembered her open kitchen where the movie crew dropped in at any time of the day with a “Baidew (or sometimes Khuri), I am hungry. Can I have…

Our Taj Mahal...

The little tin-roofed house stood forlorn in the middle of vast fields. Buffaloes wallowed in shallow pools in front of the house. Sis and I looked on in disbelief.

“Is this where we are going to live?”

We had never imagined shifting to Guwahati would be to a place like the one in front of us. Even though we were staying in a jungle previously, that was in a large wooden bungalow, while our vacations were spent in our grandmother’s sprawling mansion. 

“Don’t worry,” Ma seemed to sense our apprehension. “We will soon build a new house here.”

I still remember our excitement when Deta (my dad) returned home one evening with the blueprint of the house from the architect. We had fought over our bedrooms and debated over the wall shades. That night we slept with smiles on our faces, dreaming of our ‘castle’.

“Be prepared now, girls,” we were told by the daughters of our parents’ friends on the day of the bhoomi puja. “No more clothes, books or toys till the time the house is complete. They …