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A ‘Tolly’ good evening in Kolkata

As I sat in the Tollygunge Club in Kolkata, hearing Bengali, munching on fried fish with kashundi (mustard sauce), sipping my ‘rum pani‘ (Old Monk, of course), I felt so much at home.

There I was with an old friend and his partner, my partner and his old friends – who just so happened to know each other.

It is a small world like that.


My partner was in Kolkata to perform in a play.

I was in Kolkata to meet with my client and conduct focus group discussions with their team.

It wasn’t an accident we were in Kolkata at the same time. One commitment sparked another and thankfully nothing got in the way.

So that Sunday evening, we came out after the play to meet our friends, enjoying the slight nip in the air…

I could not have been happier.

For me, Bengali is one of those languages that I do not speak but I was immersed in enough consider it a familiar friend. It is the sound of one of my many past homes… the home where I lived in the 90s as a student in Chittaranjan Park, Delhi.

And Bengali food is something that once upon a time was what would constitute a regular home cooked meal.

The setting? A piece of history.

While the Tollygunge club was officially founded in 1895, the Club House was built even earlier and is now over 220 years old. What was once home to Tipu Sultan’s son and a member of the East India Company now is where our friends come out to enjoy their day or night.

Rather than be a stuffy relic, ‘Tolly’ is where families and friends go to entertain and be entertained, relax and re-invigorate…

It is a nice reminder that things do change… yet also retain elements of days gone by.

It was also a time to reflect…

Looking at a friend I’ve known for more than 20 years, it was clear that I’m not the same person I was back in early 1995 when we first met.

However I would not be the person I am today without all the ups and downs, rights and lefts that occurred in between.

So though Bengal is no longer a core element of my everyday today in a way that it was living in a Bengali home in a Bengali colony, hearing Bengali, eating Bong khanna, listening to Bengali music… these experiences are all intrinsically part of me, not just my past but indelibly part of who I will always be.

And for that I am thankful. It was indeed a ‘Tolly’ good evening!


Me with my friend’s partner

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Travel time…

Not sure if you’ve noticed but I’ve been a bit pre-occupied the last while.

Lots happening behind the curtain with the upshot that in just a few hours I will be on a plane from Mumbai to London… enjoy the weekend there catching up with my partner, seeing him perform, hopefully meet a few friends!

Partner and I at BAFTA

Partner and I last year at BAFTA

Then hop on another plane to Toronto. Hope and pray everything goes smoothly with my Indian visa submission.

Hop on another plane to Winnipeg to spend some much needed time with family and friends.

2015 family reunion

2015 family reunion

Then hop on yet another plane back to Toronto where my sincere wish is that a lovely new visa will be ready and waiting for me. Pretty please!

And then, yes you got it… hop on another plane back to London then home to Mumbai.

Do you love Mumbai too?

My adopted home…

Won’t bore you with the details but this is a big change for me. Til now I’ve been terribly spoilt in the visa department. With a flourish of a pen all that changed. So now… my fate is in the hands of some random stranger. Just as it is for many people. Wish me well!!

Related posts:

Stop and stare… in Delhi

When running up the steps for a meeting in Hauz Khas village in Delhi… was arrested by the sight of this mural on the staircase wall…

2016-04-18 Delhi Fashion Mural

From office art in Mumbai to stairwell murals in Delhi, any everyday art make you stop and stare?

Other Sunday Snaps:

Big B in Bandra

India’s greatest superstar of all time remains the “Big B.”

For those who never heard of Bollywood (is that possible?), Amitabh Bachchan, is the ‘angry young man’ who took Hindi films by storm in the 1970s and 80s. Who made “Kaun Banega Crorepati” (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) the ONLY show you heard blaring from every single home, with streets deserted so all and sundry could be glued to the TV set. Who remains film royalty even in his 70s.

Amitabh Bacchan (Aug2013)

Part of the Bollywood Art Project, this image can be found strolling along the bi-lanes of Bandra.

Other Sunday Snaps:

India Memory Project – Partner’s Story

Once upon a time there was a little boy growing up in India.

His father was a very talented man and toured the world with the Paranjoti Choir. One such trip took his father to France where he met another little boy.

Who became pen pals with his son. Writing to each other for many years…

His son even shared the news of his father’s death when he only eleven.

Fast forward forty years and the two finally meet when the little boy has grown up and tours France with a musical.

This is their story captured in:

India Memory Project: 105 – “A friend from my childhood I had never met” (more…)

New year, new microwave… and a reminder from 20 years ago

On 26 Dec, we welcomed our kitten Zoe in the evening. We also threw a rollickingly good Boxing Day brunch.

The idea was to revive a ‘tradition’ from Canada where Christmas would be devoted to family, but Boxing Day? Oh that was prime time for those near and dear friends who are like family!

Christmas feast with leftovers at our Boxing Day Brunch

A friend’s Xmas feast that we joined

Feasting, feasting feasting!!

And what is family friend time like without a feast? So I encouraged folks to ‘box’ up their Christmas leftovers and bring to our home. As the day progressed, dish upon delicious dish piled up. To the point where both our living room and kitchen tables were groaning under the weight and even the kitchen counter and stove was bursting with fabulous food. (Shame on me! I was too busy socialising to take a pic!)

Most dishes needed heating, so between the stove and microwave, something sure was ‘cooking’ in the kitchen. At one point, my re-heating duties were taken over by a couple of friends and my partner’s mother’s helper. Not quite sure how it happened, but to cut a long story short, we literally managed to burn out the micro!

Now this is India… which means anything can be repaired. And sure enough, my very serviceable microwave can indeed be fixed. However the cost to replace the part blown is 4 times its re-sale value and inching close to that of buying a new cheap one. After a dozen years, we decided it was time to ‘upgrade’ and get a swank new microwave come grill come convection oven, donating our old micro to our driver who will be able to get it repaired or re-sell it.

So out with the old and in with the new! (more…)

“Madam you must put your permanent address!” Aka a logic defying day

Sometimes you simply have to accept what life throws at you. There is no choice. Fighting won’t help. Getting upset won’t help. Today was one of those days…

Rather than rail at the universe, it got me thinking about different definitions of what is accepted as “proof” of address for various official (and perhaps unofficial) requirements.

Permanent Address

The stumbling block today, aside from some mysteriously missing paperwork, was a little thing known in these parts as “permanent” address.

Now… for those not familiar with the term, permit me to introduce you to this pesky little thing. (more…)

The quietest Diwali yet!

There is something exceedingly off about this picture… It is the middle of the day, there is no whine or banging of construction noises from the flat next door…. There is no pulsing music blaring at top volume… There are only the occasional burst of random fire crackers…

Is this really Diwali?

A peaceful, relaxed and frankly rather enjoyable Diwali?

Could it be that finally we can welcome Lakshmi into our homes with only the gentle glow of diyas?

Can I dare hope?? A few hours more will tell…

For those of you heading out soon to win or lose fortunes over cards, share merriment and gift giving with family and friends, let me add an exuberant ‘Happy Diwali!’ to the mercifully quiet chorus this year!

2015-11-10 Pheonix Mills Diwali


Does seem a bit like the Palladium’s Diwali decoration have almost a Christmasy feel?

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Door No 2 – Bangla bound!

I’m getting back into travel times – so far all in India!

The trip to Jodhpur was delightful and I may eventually get around to sharing another post or two about our time at the palace or film set.

However right now, all attention and focus is on preparing for Door No 2 – Kolkata.

Kolkata (usf.vc)

Kolkata (usf.vc)

Good news! I did get the short assignment – yeah!

Even better news! It will take me to Kolkata for a few days – even bigger yeah!

Alas my client’s office is not exactly in the heart of the city. So scope to revisit some familiar haunts is minimal – not so yeah…

And, keeping my client needs paramount, I’ve put together a schedule that leaves nearly no room for play.

Naughty me.

I’m still hoping a friend or two can come rescue me for a small adventure on my one free evening.

No matter what – can’t wait to hear the music of Bangla in my ears, chow down on delicious Bangla food, dive into a good project and… let’s be honest… escape the Mumbai heat for a couple of days!

PS – Just in case you are wondering, skipped ‘Door No 3’ aka the Chennai trip. However have another Delhi / Gurgaon trip coming up soon!!

Related posts:

Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort from Raas Haveli

My first day in Jodhpur was spent with a wee bit of shopping, exploring a stepwell and a rather civilised lunch then evening drinks at the enchanting Raas Hotel.

Aside from being an oasis from the hustle and bustle, Raas boasts one of the best views of Mehrangarh Fort. I felt like I could reach out and touch it! Built around 1460 by Rao Jodha, the fort towers high over Jodhpur. (more…)

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