The “goods” in the week of October 4th.


Today, as I write this, ma has been dead for 5 months. Today is also Panchami, the beginning of the biggest festival of Bengalis – Durga Puja. Every year, around this time, I get terribly homesick. I used to call up home to listen to the sound of dhaak (drum) as the neighbors welcomed the idol of the goddess in the pandal. Baba took initiative to light up the entire apartment building. And he sent me a photo of it. One year I even made it back home for the Pujas. This year, the first year (of many to come) without them is especially hard. So why am I writing this in my list of “goods”?

I walked in the woods with Sean this morning in companionable silence. As I walked I thought about how peaceful ma’s exit from this world was. Even though she had very high count of the virus, she never felt ill. Her oxygen level was depleted and she was extremely tired so she went to sleep and in her sleep, her soul left the vessel.

Her alter ego, the obstinate ma plant, has bloomed beautiful flowers.

Sahana’s papers to go to India arrived this week, 10 weeks after the application was submitted. She is now all set till she is 50. I do not know if either of my children will ever go back to India now that the reasons for going back are no more, but I want to make sure they have the hassle free option. It makes me happy. Ryan’s papers came earlier this year. I had filed for his papers before his grandparents died. When his papers came, they were dead.

I have had lunch by the pavers dedicated to ma and baba at work whenever the weather allowed. I have walked out and stood by the stones every day.

My delight this week was finishing Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier again. I read it as a 15 year old – almost in another life.

There were many tears this week. They are cathartic and cleansing so I put them in my list of “goods”.

Ryan had two days of great swimming. He got his best tines in all his events. His excited voice is definitely in my list of “goods”.

It has been so comforting to have Sahana home at this time. One day this week was especially hard. She picked me up that night from work and we went to a frozen yogurt place after 9 pm. We both sat outside and had big bowls of frozen yogurt with all kinds of unhealthy topings. It was the best.

Last evening the four of us went out for dinner. These dinners are rare now and hence, special. We talked of all the places we want to visit.

Hope your list of “goods” is long. Have a great week.

The “goods” in the week of September 27th.


Ross Gay, the author of The Book of Delights: Essays has inspired me to find delights in little things around me and since I am trying to emulate him in looking deeper and feeling deeper, I discovered I find delight in hearing the tak- tak suction sound that my vacuum cleaner makes when it sucks in the little particles of debris into the vacuum cleaner. That sound is truly very satisfying. A audible result of me trying to clean the house. I discovered this delight yesterday as I vacuumed my oft neglected basement. The vacuum cleaning was good of the week, sure, but that discovery of delight was the real good.

Most days last week were sunshiny with blue sky. Durga puja is around the corner and the sky of America resembles my sky of Kolkata around this time. I find no joy in Durga puja but I love the sky. On my walks, either in the fields behind my house or on my breaks at work when I take walks around the grounds of the library, I soak in the sun and the sky. This weather will not last and I will revisit this sunlight in my mind during the dark days of winter.

The plants in my flower garden are still giving me some flowers. Obstinate ma plant is threatening to bloom. I touch her leaves sometimes and smile.

Sahana absolutely loves her new job and everyone at her new work place have been extremely kind to her. It makes my soul happy to hear her talk enthusiastically about helping people get their print job, or find the book that they are looking for. Working at a public library is extremely rewarding and people are mostly good. It reaffirms my faith in humanity.

Ryan was quite sick over the weekend, but seems to be on the mend today.

We had my friend’s dog for overnight. She was good for our souls.

Sean fixed all the light fixtures in our house that needed fixing. That man is a true giver in every sense of the word. He spent his entire weekend trying to make our lives easier and more comfortable.

I am currently reading Sooley by John Grisham. I can not say I am loving his style of writing. However, I did write a blog for our library blog post and I see they published it today. If you want, you can read my review of the book If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha here.

Not simply the ‘goods’ but the best thing this weekend is my friend’s love to me in the form of an exquisite shawl that she knitted for me. She gave it to me in the garden at work while we were having lunch in front of the paver stones dedicated to my parents. Her love and kindness – “bests” this week.

Hope your list of ‘goods’ is long. Have a great week.

Cumulative kindness


A friend asked me how I dealt with this double tragedy of losing my parents within a span of 9 days of each other right when it happened. Did the kindness of your family and friends help you recover, she asked. I thought about those horrific days when I sat on the couch completely numb, catatonic even. For a short time, I did not want to live anymore. The kindness of others did not even touch me at that point. When I look back, although looking back is very painful, I feel like I was so completely submerged in profound grief, I was beyond anyone’s touch. I felt my family around me hugging, crying, doing things for me but I was simply an observer of their action. Friends and community poured their love and affection but if I am honest, at that time, I was simply acting the way that I was supposed to act – saying thank you, smiling.

Slowly with time, I felt like I was emerging gradually from the quagmire of deep, heavy, suffocating grief. I read a friend’s post on social media, who lost his mother 7 days before I did that he was going to live his life to the fullest because that truly is the last and most precious gift that his mother gave him. He would honor and cherish that gift by being the best that he can be. That struck a chord. My life is truly their gift to me and I can honor that gift by being the best that I can be. It was then that I started looking around. And I found the acts of kindness and love all around me.

From the love of my friends to the many acts of kindness of my coworkers, my community, my cousins, my aunt – I lived in a universe of kindness. I was so immersed in my loss that I failed to feel the warmth of all the love. It was almost a selfish act. Almost, I say since I am determined to be kind to myself. From words of love to food, from taking my shifts at work to sending plants and flowers, from financial donations for Covid help in India in my parents’ memory to cards from all over the world. Prayers were said in several countries in the world by Sean’s colleagues in churches, mosques and temples for my parents’ soul and our peace. All the cumulative kindness of my community of friends and family became this huge cushion of comfort for me to rest my head. I have already written a blog about how my coworkers donated money to engrave 2 paver stones in memory of my parents in the garden of our library. I eat my lunch there these days and I go to see them during my breaks. Yesterday, I was having lunch with a dear friend near their paving stones when she said, “I have something for you.” It was not my birthday! Why would there be something for me? She gave me a gift bag with a tissue wrapped gift. When I opened the tissue paper, my jaw dropped. It was the most exquisite shawl knitted by her with all my favorite colors. She started knitting the shawl for me in June, just after my parents died.

I cried, of course. And then laughed. I went over to the paver stones to show ma and baba the shawl. I told them not to worry about me. I am loved and cared for. And now I am looking around and cherishing it.

The “goods” in the week of September 20th.


Not just good, the amazing event this week was how my coworkers surprised me by engraving two paving stones in memory of my parents in the garden of our library. My baba loved nature and ma loved books. There can not be a more perfect place for the two of them – a garden in a library. Now I have a clear destination to go to during my breaks and lunch.

I cried when I saw what they had done. My family was there too. I cried because I feel the love that envelopes me in my universe. I don’t realize it every day but when I think about it, I know. Ma and baba, if they are watching over me, must be smiling.

I continue to read The Book of Delights by Ross Gay and continue to be amazed by the poet’s depth of perception and his ability to acknowledge delights.

I made it to one of Ryan’s water polo games. They won and Ryan played so well. I blew him a kiss from the stands and he acknowledged it with a shy smile before their game started.

Sahana is finishing up one of her jobs this week. She will become my colleague from today. She is joining my library system. I hope she has a great experience. The job of a public librarian is one of the best.

I am savoring the book Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. That is my book suggestion for this week if you enjoy historical fiction as well as literary fiction.

I wrote not one but two book reviews for our library blog after many, many months. It was not easy putting thoughts into words after such a long interval but I did it. Fortunately we have great editors.

After a year and a half, my co facilitator and I started our historical fiction book club at work. Both of us were slightly apprehensive about face to face interaction with participants but it turned out to be wonderful. The book club members even clapped for us for doing this. It felt meaningful.

The four of us went for dinner last night as a family. That certainly goes into my list of “goods” because what used to be a norm even a few years ago, has become an exception due to the different schedules of my family members. Dinner time was always special for me. It makes me sad that we do not eat dinner together anymore.

Before dropping Ry off at the dorm, we sat next to each other as he worked on his English paper. These short moments of sitting together before going our own ways to tackle the work/school week are precious.

And lastly, a word about my “obstinate ma plant.” As my summer plants are winding down and I am considering putting the garden to bed, obstinate ma plant sprouted some new buds. She is holding on to life. I just wish her namesake did the same.

Hope your list of “goods” is long. Have a great week.

The “goods” in the week of September 13th.


I have to dig deep for the “goods” this week because mentally, this week was pretty bad.

I am starting to make myself comfortable with the idea that I may need grief counseling. Perhaps that is what “stay strong” means – seek help.

Sahana and I had some good conversations about her future. It gives me immense pleasure to hear, and sometimes counsel about what she wants to do in life. She is seeing more people her age after a hiatus of close to 2 years. That makes me happy.

Ryan was sick at the beginning of the week. He got a Covid test. The result was negative and he is on the mend.

I have started reading The Book of Delights by Ross Gay. These are a compilation of short essays by the poet to mark all that which brings him delight. This is the exercise I am doing as well but I do not possess the poet’s eye for detail or his lyrical prose. The essays do inspire me to “look” more actively. They are wonderful.

After a year and a half, one of my book clubs at work will be meeting in person. Strangely, I am looking forward to it and also not. It will be odd to have an hour long discussion in person but it will be lovely to see everyone.

At work, we ordered Indian food for lunch on Friday.

We went out as a family for dinner on Saturday after many weeks. And also on Sunday before we dropped off Ryan at his dorm. We do not go out as a family any more due to schedules and commitments. It was especially nice to be together and laugh.

Sean and I went for a hike on Sunday morning. The day was perfect and being in nature brought me peace of mind.

I have been consciously meeting my step goals each day.

After many, many months I attempted to write a book review for my work blog.

Hope your list of “goods” is long. Have a great week.

The “goods” in the week of September 6th.


The first in the list of “goods” for the week is surely our 25th anniversary of marriage. It was serendipity that we met in the first place. I happened to work that particular evening shift in a gift store at a five star hotel in Kolkata. Sean happened to be posted in Kolkata at that time and happened to walk in to the gift store on a Sunday evening to buy a gift for a Bengali wedding that he was invited to. I happened to walk past him and the pallu of my saree happened to brush his arm. He turned and smiled at me.

To celebrate our special day we traveled to Zion and Bryce canyons. We both love nature and being amidst nature to thank the universe for bringing us together was fitting.

I sensed an unfamiliar feeling as I looked around the splendor of the canyons around me. It was happiness. I thought I would not feel happy again.

The nights are still hard and I can not fall asleep as the darkness and anxiety and sadness overwhelm me. I think of the sunlit canyons and the serenity that I just witnessed to calm my mind. Nature heals.

My aunt spent many days in ICU in a hospital in Kolkata. It brought back horrible memories and anxiety. But she is on the mend and will hopefully be released within a week. I am cautiously optimistic. We have already had way too many losses this year.

Sahana got a job in my library system. We are coworkers now. I am so happy for her. She will, I am sure, find fulfillment in this job.

Ryan seems happy both in academics and in sports. He has this desire to do well and the desire springs from within. That makes my life easier.

There were many little things that were good this week – being with Sean, hiking, eating delicious food in Springdale, Utah, nature. I wrote about it all to preserve the memories.

After 106 degrees Fahrenheit heat in Nevada and Utah, it was pleasant to come home to fall weather.

It was good to get back to work on Saturday and see my friends.

Hope your list of “goods” is long. Have a great week.

Canyon Overlook and other trails: Day 6


We both were tired of driving 2 and a half hours each way to go hike in different Canyons. It was also our 25th anniversary and I, more than Sean, wanted to sleep in and get a leisurely start to the day. We left the hotel around 8:30 am to drive a short distance to Zion National Park to hike up to Canyon Overlook. We crossed the 1.1 mile long historic tunnel and fortunately found a parking right at the trail head. It was a relatively easy hike up with a spectacular, panoramic view of the significant canyons in the distance. But the crowning glory of this particular hike was a chance meeting with 3 very handsome mountain goats. Sure, we had to stealthily go off trail to get close to them. And when we did, they just raised their heads to say, “Oh hey! How’s it going?” They were clearly not intimidated by us.

After finishing the trail, we found less traveled and unmarked trailheads to go down the canyon to the river bed. The rock formation there reminded me of Gothic architecture.

The popular trails were fun and beautiful. However, discovering new trails and chancing upon hidden waterfalls, finding the perfect rock in the shade, far away from hikers, listening to birdsong and trilling sound of water as we lay on the cool rock gave us such peace and tranquility. We loved hiking the crowded Narrows and the Emerald pool hikes and we loved the less traveled hikes and the exciting discoveries. This trip will be memorable for us. We celebrated our 25th anniversary, I went searching for tranquility for my anguished soul with the man I love after both my parents were taken away by this horrible virus that has snatched so many loved ones. Being amidst nature soothed me. I felt happiest I have felt in a long time when I was surrounded by nature. I could meditate. I could bring the smiling faces of my parents into focus when I closed my eyes.

When the heat started getting unbearable, we drove back to the hotel and took shelter till late afternoon. I had hoped to dress up for our anniversary dinner but I was deterred by the heat. We went to an Italian restaurant for a delicious pasta and pizza dinner. I must say, all our meals in Sprindale, Utah were fantastic albeit a bit pricey. As we finished dinner, the power went out in the whole city. We had to forego ice cream and walked slowly back to our hotel as diners around us wondered where to get food. We were witnesses to the recent New York black out and now we are proud witnesses to Springdale black out. A local informed us this never happened before.

Our 25th anniversary ended with watching reruns of our favorite crime show Law and Order SVU, next to each other on bed, content.

Bryce Canyon: day 5


According to https://www.brycecanyoncountry.com/blog/post/red-painted-faces-bryce-native-american-lore/

Indian Dick, a Paiute elder living on the Kaibab Reservation, told the Bryce Canyon hoodoo legend to a park ranger in 1936:

“Before there were any Indians, the Legend People, To-when-an-ung-wa, lived in that place. There were many of them. They were of many kinds–birds, animals, lizards and such things, but they looked like people. They were not people. They had power to make themselves look that way. For some reason the Legend People in that place were bad; they did something that was not good, perhaps a fight, perhaps some stole something…the tale is not clear at this point. Because they were bad, Coyote turned them all into rocks. You can see them in that place now all turned into rocks; some standing in rows, some sitting down, some holding onto others. You can see their faces, with paint on them just as they were before they became rocks. The name of that place is Angka-ku-wass-a-wits (red painted faces). This is the story the people tell.”

We again rose very early to get a head start to see the much acclaimed Bryce Canyon. After a picturesque drive, we arrived at the Visitor center, made a plan for our day and started our hike. We took the shuttle to the end of the shuttle stop – Bryce Point and walked the Rim Trail. For a long part of the walk, Sean and I were silent. There was truly nothing to say in front of such splendor and beauty of nature. I do not have words to express the magnificence of the canyon that we witnessed today so here are some photos.

I do not know if the hoodoos are the bad people turned into stone by the trickster Coyote, but they reminded me of intricately sculptured fortresses or castles or even temples.

From the Sunset point of the Rim Trail, we decided to descend about 350 feet to the Sevier River at the bottom of the canyon. There were two combined trails but we chose to hike the 1.3 mile long Navajo loop. I almost died the day we hiked down North Rim, but we had gone down 1400 feet that day. Navajo loop, I told myself, was nothing compared to that. In this trail we saw 3 different and famous structures created by rocks that have been named – Wall Street, 2 bridges and Thor’s hammer.

Thor’s hammer.

There was a cool breeze blowing which kept us comfortable as we climbed out of the canyon. I took several breaks to catch my breath but also to take it all in. After completing this hike we walked further along the Rim of the canyon till we got off the trail to get to our car.

The Visitor center had interesting information about the rock formations and also about Paiute Indians who inhabited the area. We then decided to drive 17 miles up the canyon to its highest elevation point, Rainbow point to get an expansive view of the area.

From Rainbow point.

On our way back to exit the park, we saw a prairie dog scurry from his burrow. Prairie dog sighting is quite common in these parts we were informed. Bryce canyon is one of the most picturesque canyons that I have seen. The sights of the hoodoos, the clear, blue sky above, the twisted bristle cone pines stubbornly clinging on to life despite being repeatedly hit by lightning, the chipmunks who tried to climb up my pants to beg for my trail mix, the sighting of prairie dogs – the whole tapestry of the canyon gave me peace. Mother Nature heals, a friend messaged me. “May you find peace in nature.” I did.

We drove back with tired bodies and refreshed souls.

Horse shoe bend, Lake Powell and a dinner at Kanab: day 4.


Today we slept in. We both woke up a little after 7 am and Sean said, “Oh no!” I grunted, “Oh yes! Today will be a low key day.”

We left the hotel at 8:30 am to drive over 2 and a half hours to see Horse Shoe Bend and Lake Powell. Horse Shoe Bend is a marvel where a big boulder is surrounded by blue strip of water. It was an easy, short yet extremely hot hike.

Horse Shoe Bend.

It was done within an hour so we drove through Page, Arizona to Lake Powell. We took a detour to see if a tour of the Upper Antelope canyon was available but it was sold out. So we drove around  some neighborhoods in Page to get a feel of the town, stopped to walk around Lake Powell, drove back to Kanab admiring the Vermillion canyons and buffaloes in the corals on our way. Supposedly one can see The Grand Escalante from the highway but we could not figure out. At Kanab we ate dinner at The Rocking V, drove back to hotel for a much needed shower.

Lake Powell

Tomorrow’s destination is Bryce Canyon. I am excited.

North Rim, Grand Canyon: day 3


On Sunday, I almost died because I am terribly out of shape. But that is besides the point.

We got in the car around 7:00 am to start our 2 and a half hour drive to North Rim, Grand Canyon in Arizona. Driving through the hairpin bends of the Zion canyons were slightly alarming but mostly breathtaking. And we saw this family on the side of the road, grazing for breakfast.

Mountain goats

We arrived at North Rim visitor center close to 10:30 am and started our hike after filling up our water bottles and looking at the different hike options. They were mostly easy hikes with only 2 moderate to difficult. Guess which one certain someone chose. Yes, “we” chose one of the moderate to difficult ones – of course. The North Kaibab trail went steeply down about 0.3 miles to Coconino overlook for a view of the Grand Canyon. My hope was to hike down there and hike right back up. We went down to the overlook, smiling at fellow hikers, giving way to mule riders and paying attention to mule poop and mule pee. Once we reached the overlook, we took a break taking in the scenery around us.

As we sat in the shade, we heard other hikers talking about Supai Tunnel further 1.7 miles down. 7 miles below that was Cottonwood campground  and 7 miles further down was Roaring Springs at Colorado River. Sean gently nudged me to go down to Supai tunnel. The canyon around me was so magical and the hike down did not tire me out so I agreed to climb down further. With each switchback I thought to myself “what goes down must come up” but decided to worry about the climb later. We reached Supai Tunnel. Sean spoke to every single hiker that we passed. A jovial “Hi, how is it going?” Or some sort of jokey comment. It was evident he was in his element. The responses were mostly enthusiastic and friendly. Some, however, especially from those straining as they climbed up were just panting grunts. Their panting scared me but I valiantly kept climbing down.

At Supai tunnel

After resting for a while at the tunnel and after replenishing our bodies with plenty of water and refreshments, we started our hike up to the top. And I almost died. It was a steep 2 mile climb with no level ground at all to regulate my breathing. At one point, I felt my heart was going to beat out of my chest. At every switchback, I sat down to bring my heartbeat down from 178 or so. Sean was right by my side the entire way, carrying our back pack, supplying me with water and saying, “Look how far you have come. Look, we are almost there.” I thought in my head I can not make it. But I did. It took a long time, but I made it up to the trail head. That feeling of accomplishment gave me such confidence. At the Coconino overlook, surrounded by the serene, regal canyons, I closed my eyes to meditate. Sean took a photo where a halo is seen above my head. It is nothing but the time of the day and the position of the sun. But when a friend said that looks like blessing from all those I lost, I liked it.

From the trailhead of North Kaibab trail, we hiked 1.4 miles back to our car, fortunately on level road, drank some more water and trail mix. Then we attempted the easy trail to see the depth of the Grand Canyon from the top rim. Bright Angel Point trail gave us this view along with hundreds of other excited hikers, busy snapping photos. Sean and I sat on some rocks quietly. I whispered to him, “Happy Anniversary!” It seemed the perfect place to tell him that I am so happy to be with him for the last 25 years.

On our way back we had delicious dinner at Wild Thyme in Kanab complete with a fantastic carrot cake. Drove through scary hairpin bends of Zion National forest as the sun set behind the canyons leaving their looming dark shapes and a bright orange hue in the horizon. The silhouette of the canyons were awe inspiring and the drive through those winding narrow mountain roads was harrowing.

We had a 14 hour day. My body needed an easier day but my spirit was ready to go. We were undecided on what to do on Monday but were sure we will think of something.