Browsing Tag

kolkata

Espresso Shots

the girl called rhino

a wail rose up in the calm late afternoon air. the tail end of it came stalking into the room with the plump little girl, who threw herself on the bed, burying her face in the cushion lying on top of the carefully covered pillows. the wail turned into a smothered whimper now, though as far as the calm of the afternoon was concerned, both had the same effect on it. “oh ma, why’re you behaving like that? what’s the…

Continue Reading

Espresso Shots

five feet of the snake

  “unpalatable to the lord of death! first among the monkeys!! you’ve seen five feet of the snake?? burnt face, extract of low stock!!” jomer oroochi! bandorer ogrogonno!! shaaper paanch pa dekhecho?? mukh pora, bodjaat!! the swear words flew fast, interrupted only by indignant breaths, equally rapid. the frail old lady’s voice got more stentorian with each word, the affront in it resounding. “return them this moment! return them now, i say!” she bellowed, her small frame shaking, her chest…

Continue Reading

Reviews

mother of 1084

her son is dead, she is alive. the endless agony of this careens through an entire day: morning, afternoon, late afternoon, evening. now keening, now wretched, now rending, always there, almost a central player. on a day like none other, a day perhaps of reckoning. hajar churashir ma, the mother of 1084, mahasweta devi’s stunning indictment ultimately of a whole way of life even as she grieves with sujata, the protagonist, and senses, elicits, and enunciates her every thought and…

Continue Reading

Espresso Shots

revolution

the tiny dark man in spotless white dhoti and panjabi – in bengal the kurta has been called that for a very long time – had just reached the palm tree at the end of the unpaved gravel strewn path leading up to the house. rimi peered out of the window, her eyes getting brighter with each step the man took, as she unconsciously closed the book lying on the desk. she’d study later. now, it was time for bismil…

Continue Reading

food

the baghdadi jewish dish that was created in mumbai and kolkata

the taste was sour and sweet, a smooth, compelling aroma filled my mouth and nose, the texture was silky, a depth in it. i’d never tasted a chicken dish like this before. i’d never tasted anything like this before. the first time i had chicken chitannee, i certainly didn’t think of aurangzeb, or the british, or dawud pasha, the last mamluk ruler of baghdad. the dense gravy, mixed with fluffy white gobindobhog rice wouldn’t brook any thinking. the tender yet…

Continue Reading

food

if winter comes, can motorer kochuri be far behind

food is so much about memory, isn’t it? i can’t even hear the words “motorer kochuri” without thinking of my mother. my mother was not a great cook, in fact she was never too keen to visit the kitchen. she had, however, the most discerning sense of taste and understanding of the various stages of cooking. she was particular about the spices and condiments she believed a dish called for. the balance of ingredients was important, getting the right inflection…

Continue Reading

Espresso Shots

triptych

the fan fell on pishima’s head on monday. everyone remembered it was a monday because shome was on a fast. pishima always made fresh shondesh for shome with cottage cheese and a little sugar when he fasted. she flavoured the shondesh with lemon juice sometimes, or plain new date jaggery if it was winter. sometimes she added a segment or two of orange, after carefully removing the skin, pith, and seeds, of course. when the weather got warm, she sprinkled…

Continue Reading

Espresso Shots

the decision

they started cutting the house the day after holi, so that they could finish before the monsoon came. she sat on her bed, legs crossed, staring at the zigzag of blue and dull pink on the fading green counterpane, almost meditative, as she heard the workers arrive. it was two minutes after nine. usually in calcutta, nothing happened on time. bini babu left for work at ten thirty every day, his office started at nine thirty. the cook rarely entered…

Continue Reading

indi

on the road with a memory

that year my father was the happiest man in all of assam, i’m quite sure. he had bought himself an ambassador mark II, a black one, and had driven it all the way from calcutta to duliajan in upper assam. somewhere near guwahati, the gear had seemed a bit unreasonable, but that hadn’t bothered him. a brand new black ambassador with upholstery in grey and red and that feeling of latest technology releases a sort of joy that a little…

Continue Reading