On this trip we “went to Seagull and bought lotsofbooks, and finally sat down to draw at the airport.”
“Airport people are the best to draw. This restless Japanese tourist was not calm. Maybe his legs were aching. Maybe it was his heart.”
I was looking at the body language of the people around and thinking that “Bengalis always look so apologetic to be present. Like they don’t own the right to exist. They look too humble and sit as if they are trying to disappear into the background.
What better way to welcome the new year if not with food and drink. I’m sure the Anteater would agree. From the last 2 years I found that food has been such a recurring theme – If I’ve not Instagrammed it, I’ve probably drawn it.
Here’s a “rare” family Friday dinner. My in laws were visiting and we went to Amalfi in GK2.
Here’s the food I ate on a quick weekend trip to visit my family in Kolkata. I always think that love in Indian families is all about food. Most of us didn’t grow up with verbal articulations of love, and we demonstrate our love, especially in families, by cooking for and feeding our loved ones.
Most of the food below was made by my Ma and Chhotoma.
“Whoever eats fish curry with roti?”
Said my mother
I gained 2 kilos with all that love!
This is a drawing I made while eating by myself and reading a poem one day. I forgot what I was eating and I can’t even remember the poem, but I enjoyed it enough to draw about it!
What if I could gather all the people who taught me to love around my dinner table? We would drink coffee and eat pizza.
Antara would be chopping onions because she’s always doing something, and whenever I chop onions I think of her. Snehasis would be listening to his wife and observing the world to make fun of them later. Ananya would be under the table reading because she doesn’t always like to socialise. Lekha would be sitting quietly and smiling in happiness. Atul and Reshmy would be having some long and complicated conversation where they would both not be listening to the other. Viv would be drawing happily. I forgot to draw Orin but he is the one person who forced his way into my life and made me love him.
Last week I went home to Calcutta for a brief visit. Those two days were filled with delicacies of all sorts, including the most esoteric dessert. Actually the presence of some seasonal delicacies brought to mind the absence of others – like the Bengalis’ pride and joy, the Himsagar mango. I did get to eat “taaler bora” and “taal kheer” cooked lovingly by my aunt – a skill that my mothers’ generation would take to their grave rather than teach me.
Mother: Huh. Your generation has neither the time nor patience to learn these complex dishes…
Me: But who will make these for me when I’m eighty?
Aunt: Be realistic! You don’t even own a karai, how will you deep-fry the boras?
Yes. Unfortunately I gave up deep-frying (so unhealthy!) and so forfeited my chance to learn the art of taaler bora.
Me: But at least, taal kheer?
Mother & Aunt: No!
Mother: You have no patience!
My chances of cooking taaler bora thwarted, I set out to buy some Bengali sweets to take back to Delhi with me. But horror or horrors, the shops were selling all Marwari and Punjabi sweets!
Where was kheer kadamb, with the powdery white shell and the juicy centre? Where was dorbesh, that beautiful jewel-like sphere?
Nor tilkoot – made from sesame seeds – or jibegoja – the sweet I most identify with!
I was reeling from the shock. Finally I had to go searching across town looking for some real Bengali sweetshops.
In the end with much difficulty I found some simple sandesh…but I am still in shock.]