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Remembering Mom…

Sardarni Beant Kaur (18 November 1939 – 16 November 2017)

This is how I would always like to remember Mom, strong, gentle, awe-inspiring, and cheerful. This photo was clicked on 15 May 2016, about 1-1/2 years ago before her death, on Mom and Dad’s 51st anniversary celebration at home.

Mom expired on 16 November 2017, just 2 days before her 78th birthday. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, but we were all shell shocked when the doctor pronounced his verdict with the remark, “No use of taking her to hospital now.”

I was in office when I got the news. I rushed out immediately. It took me two hours to reach home. Mom was on her bed, eyes shut, covered with a blanket right up to her neck. My Dad, in between fits of weeping, was trying to inform as many close relatives as he could. I tried my best to console him, but he was still very distraught.

I still could not believe that she wouldn’t open her eyes again and smile at me, like she always did. I touched her hands and feet. They felt ice cold and sent a sharp stab right through my heart…

For some strange reason, I always thought Mom was invincible. She had, after all, battled with cancer and emerged as a winner. She was always optimistic, never complaining or grieving about anything, always trying to be her best. Even though she was now retired from her nursing career, her professional bearing, her courage in the face of extreme pain and adversity, her neat and tidy way of doing things stayed with her right till the end.

On the morning of the day she died, she seemed to be better than ever before. With her feet firmly planted on the ground, she had moved herself closer to the pillow and said, “Thank you” after I was done with freshening her up as per my daily routine. I thought everything was becoming normal again as it was Mom’s old habit to always thank profusely for every kind gesture, no matter how small…

Since it was already quite late and my husband was in Kolkatta, Mom’s cremation was fixed for the next day. My younger sister Dimpy and my brother-in-law Lalit, with the help of our neighbors, arranged for a casket to be brought home from the Gurdwara for preservation of her body till then. I was really touched to see the way everyone came out to support in every way possible.

As the hours ticked by, Mom passed through all the different stages with a quiet rock-like endurance and resilience that is characteristic of the dead. But even when she was alive, she had the same amazing inner strength that always inspired everyone she came into contact with.

With our family members around us, I clicked as many pics she as I could during the next few hours. It was my way of coping with the painful loss by doing something concrete and preserving something of her while she was still with us…Some of them are given below.

It was for the first time that I was an active participant in Sikh rituals related to death. The prayers offered at every stage served as a soothing balm because of their constant reminder to not grieve excessively as death is inevitable. Nothing is lost and nothing is created. After death, the body returns to earth while the soul moves into another body…

Mom is now no longer with us physically, but something of her and the values she stood for continue to inspire us. Her advice to me in particular, “Remain active, never stop working” will keep me on my toes for as long as I am alive…

Wish you a great after-life, Mom!

16 November 2017

Around 3:30 PM

Around 11:30 PM

17 November 2017

Around 10 AM

Ardas before cremation

Getting getting ready for cremation

A stark reminder: Irrespective of how much you struggle to achieve your goals in life, everything turns into ashes in the end.

20 November 2017 (Final day of Akhand Path)

End of Akhand Path…

Around 3 PM

Kirtan and final ardas in C Block Gurdwara…

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Final get-together at tea and saying goodbye…

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Culinary Heroes – Part 2

In May 2016, I wrote an article titled ‘Culinary Heroes,’ which I subsequently uploaded into my personal blog. (https://jasbirchatterjeephotoblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/culinary-gods/).

I hardly realized its importance at that time. For me, it was just another post. But I had a great time writing that piece because it was about people who had unfulfilled dreams and a definite purpose in life. I could easily identify myself with them.

This post did not, however, get much attention on the web. Even after sharing it on Facebook and Whatsapp, all I got was a like or two. But gaining popularity has never been my goal, so this didn’t bother me at all. Being able to write the way I do is rewarding enough for me.

A few months later, however, my friend Deepak Dahiya, whom I have known for more than 3 decades, gave me a pleasant surprise by calling me up to say that he found my post ‘Culinary Heroes’ very inspiring. With a voice bubbling with enthusiasm and excitement, he added that he was inviting me over on coming Sunday to the opening of his new shop ‘Samosa Medley.’

I was quite intrigued and thrilled. But I was also a bit worried as Deepak was just about to diversify into food business for the first time with this outlet. His future looked both exciting and challenging, full of uncertainties…

Well, on the opening day, around July 2016, when I reached Deepak’s shop in Janakpuri, I was really impressed. His shop had a classy exterior and the interior was tastefully designed with all the latest technology available to ensure that the samosas served to customers are tasty, safe, healthy, and also reasonably priced.

Here are some pics of this shop.

Top signboard

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Deepak, in supervisory mode, watching customers arrive and go…

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A year later, Deepak called me again. This time, it was for the opening of his second shop in Uttam Nagar! His wife Neena has quit her full-time job in a telecom company and she is now his business partner as well.

Here are some pics clicked during our recent visit to his second shop…As you must have noticed, from 30 varieties of samosas, Deepak has graduated to 56!

Deepak and Neena, at work…

Deepak and Neena, talking to customers…

Wish you all the best, Deepak and Neena! I look forward to visiting your third outlet next year… May God bless you both with joy and success in everything you do.

Copyright: Jasbir Chatterjee

Dead Or Still Alive?

 

 

Such sights are quite common in Delhi. People come from all over India to the nation’s capital with a dream for a better future. Not all succeed and this is how many end up…

But callous and hardened as we all are, we just turn away our faces and keep on moving with sorrows of our own, praying that we also don’t end up like this one day…

Jasbir Chatterjee

Durga Puja, Timarpur, 2017

In 2017, Dashmi, the last day of Durga Puja, was on 30 September. The mad frenzy of the festival finally ended on this day, saddling me with a bundle of mixed emotions, unlike previous years when the slow onset of sunset on the day of Dashmi seemed to be such a rude anticlimax.

I was happy and relieved because the end of puja meant freedom from the terrible stress of being ‘social.’ With so many old faces getting replaced every year with new ones, the task of befriending new people for its own sake isn’t very easy at my age. Last year, my handbag was stolen from inside the pandal. So, apart from the freedom from tight petticoats and blouses, new sarees with stiff borders biting into my neck, heavy jewellery weighing me down, it also meant freedom from the constant threat of petty thiefs trying to snatch belongings…

And here’s a little secret…On Dashmi, while we were all busy getting things ready for the final puja done by married ladies and the subsequent sindoor khela, an aquaintance said to me with an amused grin, “You have worn your blouse the other way round. Front part, pleats and all are on the back and rear part is on front.”

I blushed and immediately covered up the ready-made blouse with my pallu. But in spite of my acute embarassment, I thought that was funny indeed, as though my breasts decided to sit on the back seat of the classroom!

And I was sad because in spite of all the personal discomfort I underwent during those 5 days of the festival, it was a welcome relief from my fast-paced life. I ate properly and I got better sleep than what I get during working days.

Well, it’s all part of life, I guess. Different phases bring on different emotions…

This year, my daughter, now a 21-year-old grownup girl, managed to have her way and accompanied her Dad, my husband, to the Yamuna river to witness Durga Visarjan, the last part of the festival which many like me find too messy and painful and give a miss.

So this time, I didn’t have much luggage on me on my way home in the evening and I gave myself the luxury of a short, leisurely stroll on the tree-lined Lucknow Road in Timarpur on my way to the Metro station.

While I walked with slow, unhurried steps, my mind ambled along my long 25-year-old memory lane, to that midnight of 18 December 1992 when I had stepped into a Bengali household in Timarpur, dressed as a Punjabi bride…

Here are some photos I clicked during this walk. They are in keeping with the mood I was in at that time…nostalgic, sad, happy, and worried about the future…

Perched on the terrace gracefully like a ballerina…

Sunlight peeping through the trees…

This notice says, “Urination is prohibited here.” It’s meant for humans who behave like dogs.

And then when I reached home…

Approaching dusk…Clicked from terrace at home…in the backdrop of loud sound of crackers from the Ramlila maidan nearby, with Ravana getting burnt to ashes…

Joy Ma Durga! Jai Shri Ram!

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A Memorable Evening

On 3 October 2017, I had the honor of having my favorite writer-author-blogger-photographer over for tea at my home…It was a proud moment for me that evening as I introduced this much-accomplished author to my family.

See this pic below…With him scrolling down in my phone through some of my recent poems…