Signs you live in a Bengali Household

The Bengali household is a unique thing, unlike any other household in the world (That I know of). The following symptoms indicate that you live in, or are a part of a typical Bengali Household. (Observed from cousins and extended family). People from Kolkata may be able to relate.

Bengali Household
Typical Bengali Family, PC: SBS AU
Signs that you live in a Bengali Household
  1. As far as your parents are concerned, you stopped growing when you were 6 & they still treat you like you are 6 years old.
  2. Your mother still tries to feed you forcibly with her own hands if you’re taking too much time finishing your meal.
  3. You have a unique, hard-to-spell name and you know very few other people with the same name
  4. Your parents have a photo of Rabindranath Tagore and/or topless photos Ramkrishna (and his wife) on their walls.
  5. You have a silly nickname that you can never divulge to your non-Bengali friends.
  6. Your parents have any/all of the below at their home
    • Boroline (Thick layer applied on the lips)
    • Digene/Gelusil (For acidity after eating fried food)
    • Cremaffin (Or any laxative, because Bengali diet is poor in dietary fibre)
    • Misri
    • Silbatta
    • Boti (A chopping knife doesn’t belong in a Bengali kitchen)
    • Kasundi
  7. You call and inform your parents every time you leave home to go somewhere and every time you reach back home safely.
  8. You keep your parents informed about every meal you had everyday.
  9. If you live outside Kolkata (or West Bengal), your mother constantly worries about whether you’re getting good quality fish to eat. (Without good river fish, a Bengali loses most, if not all his powers)
  10. You complain to your parents about every minor ailment that befalls you, including headaches, scratches etc. and you mother asks you to apply Boroline on your wound.
  11. Your parents call anyone who is not a Bengali “non-Bengali” or “Hindustani”.
  12. A football match between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal stirs up feverish arguments in your household.

Rains in Gurgaon

I love rains, and have written about it many times before. My favourite type of rain is one which goes on for hours & it makes me nostalgic & pensive. Unfortunately, in Gurgaon, such rain is rare; it almost never rains for more than an hour at stretch. (Which is good in a sense, because of the waterlogging that follows soon).

Rains

I love the sound of rain the background and I love how the rain drops stick to the windows.

Rains in Gurgaon
Rain Drops on Windows

Don’t you love the sight of raindrops clinging to leaves?

Even the Air Quality has improved drastically.

Air Quality

Unfortunately, the rain has already stopped by the time I finished writing this post and soon, it will be hot and humid.

My Worst Purchases-Microsoft Lumia 950XL

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Microsoft Lumia 950XL, which was my 29th phone.

Microsoft Lumia 950XL, Dead on Arrival
Microsoft Lumia 950XL, Dead on Arrival

I was super-excited to buy this phone since the day it was announced by Microsoft. In the months leading up to the actual launch, I used to send my family members to the Microsoft Store at Ambience mall every Sunday (one-by-one) to ask about the phone’s launch date. I even had a Google search alert setup which sent me emails as soon as any news article were published about this phone. Although this phone was great on paper (Great hardware, huge display, excellent camera), this phone was my 7th Windows Phone overall and by the time this phone launched, Windows 10 Mobile was all but dead.

I remember the day this phone launched; I had just started a new job that week. I immediately dropped everything I was doing and went to Ambience mall to buy it (For ₹55,000; of course, I had pre-booked the phone months ago). The store employees told I was the first person in North India to get my hands on this phone. At that time I thought I was special. In hindsight, it is clear now, I was one of the few fools in North India to buy a Windows Mobile (at the tail end of 2015).

Within months, Microsoft announced the death of Windows 10 for mobiles. Within weeks after that, app developers abandoned the platform. There was still a small community online of loyal fans but we were more and more reliant on 3rd party apps for basic services. Uber, specifically, was a huge pain point. There was no easy way to search for destinations, you had to zoom out on the map, zoom in to where you thought you wanted to go and mark the location manually.

I also remember claiming some of the phone’s cost from my company (There was a company BYOD policy) and my manager laughing at me that I spent such a huge amount for such a phone.

Slowly and painfully, over the next year, the number of useable 1st party apps dwindled to almost zero and I eventually made the jump to Apple’s (Walled) Garden putting an end to my Lumia misery. If I could do things over, I should have bought an iPhone for the same amount and prevented myself from a year of misery.

Home Garden – Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree, also called Norfolk Island Pine is an evergreen multi-layered pine native to Norfolk Island. Here’s a good website with more information about this plant.

Christmas Tree
My Christmas Tree

I have had this tree for 8/9 years now. It was quite small when I inherited it from my parents (They moved to another city) but its growth has accelerated since I moved it to a bigger pot.

I keep this plant in partial sunlight all the time.

The Christmas Tree requires very little maintenance. The only maintenance I do is, I cut off 1 layer of branches from the bottom every year, which promotes growth at the top layers. With proper manure, this tree grow 1/2 layers on top every year. It is good to rotate the pot (and the tree) by 90 degrees every month, so that any slant developing because of sunlight direction gets corrected.

Top Layer

During Christmas, we bring it indoors for a week and the family has fun decorating its branches with ornaments. Just make sure to remove the ornaments after a few days, or that area will stop growing leaves.

I water it between once a week during peak winters and thrice a week during peak summers.

I fertilise it every 2 months or when it shows signs of growth.

Here’re some good tools which will help you with your gardening.

My Best Purchases-Bellroy Hide & Seek

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Bellroy Hide & Seek billfold, which is definitely one of the best purchases I ever made.

For years, I carried a generic wallet, till I saw an advertisement for the Bellroy Hide & Seek on some website. Even though I never click on advertisements, I had been unhappy with my wallet (especially the thickness) for sometime, so I was intrigued. I chose the charcoal grey colour on their website and bought the “Hi” model.

Even though this is one of the most expensive wallets I ever bought (more so because of the import duty I paid), it is well worth the price. The design is clever, the materials are top notch and the craftsmanship is beyond compare. Although I don’t have photos to compare anymore, the new Bellroy with the same amount of cards and cash inside was less than one third the thickness of my old wallet; compared side-by-side.

The photos above show the state of the wallet after more than 3 years of heavy use. The leather has aged well, the fabric is intact & not a single stitch is out of place or frayed.

Bellroy Hide & Seek
So thin!

The photo above shows the thickness (<1.5cm) of the wallet with the following items in it-

  • 6x Average plastic credit sized cards (in different compartments)
  • 3x Laminated paper documents
  • 7x Paper currency bills

On top of all this, there’s also RFID protection to prevent unauthorised or accidental use of NFC enabled cards. The only thing missing in this wallet is a pouch to store coins, but I have modified my habits to not keep coins anymore.

Overall, I am very pleased with this purchase. When this wallet does become unusable (not for a decade at least, I am sure), my next wallet will definitely be a Bellroy, too.

My Worst Purchases-Bose QC 35 II

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Bose QC 35 II headphones, which I regretted buying.

Bose QC 35 II
The Bose QC 35 II, stellar headphones

Don’t get me wrong, the Bose QC 35 II are great headphones, with stellar sound quality and impressive noise cancellation. I just realised after buying them that I am not a “wearing huge headphones in public” kind of guy.

A bit of history, my earphones of choice used to be the Bose Soundsport Wireless, which I happily used for a few years, but lost during my last trip to Xiamen, China. I was quite devastated and for some time, considered buying the same earphones again, but couldn’t find them anywhere in Xiamen. I almost bought Apple Airpods from the Xiamen Apple store, but somehow controlled myself because of the poor audio quality.

After returning to India, I saw the Bose QC 35 II on sale at half price and I had wanted to dip my toes into Noise cancellation, so bought it.

The sound quality & the noise cancellation blew me away (Sony MX3 performs even better they say, but I was a Bose purist then). However, after the first few days of use, the novelty began to wear off. I would feel awkward walking in public with them around my ears, sitting at my desk in office. Having phone calls on them looked even more awkward so I started regretting my decision very soon.

On top of that, Apple soon launched the Airpods Pro, which had everything I wanted in the original Airpods and I was done with the QC 35 IIs.

I eventually sold them to a couple of illiterate Gym Bros via OLX at almost the same price I bought them for, so the regret didn’t last for long.

Crazy Sofa at Bang Saen

During my last trip to Bangkok, I had a yearning to go visit a beach. Me and my Indian friend decided to head to Bang Saen, which is a beach in Chonburi province, a little more than an hour’s drive from Bangkok. He also brought along his Indian roommate. His name, translated to English literally means Snake 🐍, so that’s how we’ll refer to him for the rest of the story. 

Bang Saen Beach

The Snake is your typical Indian tourist who doesn’t want to part with any of his money & is always on his guard thinking that everyone is out to cheat him. He cribbed about paying 10 Baht to use the changing rooms (why can’t we just change behind that tree?), paying 50 Baht to use the beach chairs (we should have brought our own chairs). He cribbed about paying for food (so overpriced). When we decided to ride the crazy sofa, he immediately began to haggle with the operator. Note that, he paid for none of the above things; he is just a habitual haggler.

Unlike a Banana boat, which is streamlined and cuts through the water gracefully, a crazy sofa is inherently unstable and would bounce and flop around even in the most stable waters. So when the snake haggled with the operator and the operator agreed to reduce his rate, but with a nefarious smile slowly spreading across his face, I knew something was wrong.

So started our crazy sofa ride, with me and my friend on each edge and the snake in the middle. It soon became clear that the operator’s main agenda was to punish us for haggling like every other Indian that had crossed his path in the past. The ride was simultaneously the most thrilling and the scariest experience of my life. The operator was going much faster than usual, the sofa was bouncing like crazy and we were holding on to the plastic handles for dear life and screaming for the guy to stop (he conveniently forgot how to understand even the most basic English words).

A Crazy Sofa ride, not our Crazy Sofa Ride

Now would be a good time to mention that the snake easily weighed >100kg and was bobbing around both sides and hitting me and my friend (who were already bouncing hard) and only sheer terror made us hold on and prevented us from being thrown off the sofa. Multiple times, the sofa was airborne for more than 5 seconds at a time and more than a couple times, it almost overturned.

When the operator finally stopped the Jet ski and let us off, we literally toppled into the water from sheer exhaustion and took a long time to wade back to the beach.

Next day, woke up with soreness in unusual parts of the body, like the joints of fingers etc. This was one adventure, though, that I am unlikely to forget soon.

Home Garden – Dwarf Umbrella Tree

The Dwarf Umbrella Tree, also called Schefflera Arboricola is an evergreen multi-stemmed shrub native to China. Here’s a good website with more information about this plant.

Dwarf Umbrella Tree
My Dwarf Umbrella Tree

Slowly, the leaves spread out and form a sort of canopy, which gives it the name.

I keep this plant in partial sunlight for 3/4 hours a day.

It requires very little maintenance except deadheading some branches.

I water it between once a week during peak winters and alternate days during peak summers.

I fertilise it every 2 months or when it shows signs of growth.

Here’re some good tools which will help you with your gardening.

Sitabuldi

Recently, I had a dream about Sitabuldi. For those who are not fortunate enough to have ever lived in Nagpur, Sitabuldi, also called Buldi (But pronounced “Birdie”) is a densely populated commercial neighbourhood of Nagpur.

Sitabuldi
Sitabuldi, PC: Wikipedia

The area is divided into “Modis”, which means “Lane” (loosely translated to English). I have a lot of memories of this place during my (extensive) stay at Nagpur. Some of the highlights are

  1. The second hand mobile phone market, where I was a regular, both to sell and buy cellphones.
  2. Hotel President, in Modi No. 3, where my parents often stayed, when they came to visit me in Nagpur.
  3. Pape Juice Corner, which squeezed the freshest and best fruit & vegetable juices and was open till the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, the last 2 times I visited Nagpur, I found it closed.
  4. Haldiram’s Thaat Baat restaurant, where we ate sometimes, when we had some money, but only enough to be able to afford vegetarian food.
  5. Some rooftop bar, whose name I cannot remember.
  6. Janki Talkies, a small cosy theatre, where we went only once to watch some movie at night. Our group was the only group to buy tickets that night, so the theatre operator had to begrudgingly turn on the projector & start the movie just for us.
  7. Sitabuldi Fort, which we passed many times, but never bothered to go inside, because engineering students don’t go see forts.
  8. Shukrawari lake, also called Gandhisagar lake, which we passed many times, but never bothered to go inside, because single engineering students don’t go boating on lakes.
  9. The street vendors whom we visited to buy cheap garments from.
  10. Some dhaba where we once ate cheap food and the utensils were coated with sand.
Sitabuldi Interchange Station, PC: The Metro Rail Guy

The place has recently changed somewhat, with a futuristic looking metro station now constructed as part of Nagpur Metro. I did make plans for a Nostalgic trip to Nagpur this year, but the Covid situation made it impossible.

Home Garden – Chinese Windmill Palm

The Chinese Windmill Palm, also called Hemp Palm is a short stemmed perennial plant of the Arecaceae family which originally came from the tropical and temperate mountain regions of China. Here’s a good website with more information about this plant.

Chinese windmill Palm
My Chinese Windmill Palm; winter 2019

The leaves of the plants grow in layers and resemble a traditional Chinese fan, hence the name. In fact, these leaves have been used to make hand-fans and manuscripts in ancient India and other South East Asian countries for centuries.

A traditional hand fan made from a dried palm leaf

I keep this plant in partial sunlight for 3/4 hours a day.

The Chinese Windmill Palm requires very little maintenance except deadheading the branches at the end of every winter season, when all the leaves fall off and new leaves start emerging from the inner layers; leaving the plant without any leaves for a few (scary) weeks. Eventually, the leaves do grow back, one at a time.

Summer 2020, notice the stubs left from the older branches/leaves

I water it between once a week during peak winters and alternate days during peak summers.

I fertilise it every 2 months or when it shows signs of growth.

Here’re some good tools which will help you with your gardening.

Earth bound misfit, I