My flower bed


Having grown up in the concrete jungle of Kolkata, I yearned to see the lush green in the countryside of Bengal, but we did not have open space to grow a garden in the city. So we bought one or two potted plants and tried to keep those alive. So when we moved to the suburbs in America, I did not know what to do or how to nurture a garden. I was growing two little human beings then as my partner traveled and that took all my energy. Over the years though, I did grow some flowers, some herbs and lately some succulents.

I decided to get my flower bed ready this year for some planting after Mother’s day. The flower bed got no love from me all these months so when I went out there with my gardening tools and looked at the whole bed, I was somewhat overwhelmed. Will I ever get this jungle weeded in time? I decided to set a small goal of one patch at the beginning. So I set to my task of minutely digging out the weeds that had taken over that particular section. The whole flower bed still daunted me so I mindfully kept the thought of wholeness away as I worked on the small patch that I had chosen for the day. As I dug out the unwanted plants from their roots, their was a strange cathartic feeling and a sense of lightness. I was focused on each little green, mindful of every single weed in my chosen patch. Once I completely finished working on the patch, I stood up satisfied. I looked at the whole then. Although there was a lot left to be done, my worked-on section at the beginning of the bed looked beautiful and clean. The whole was not as daunting any more. I vowed to parcel up the whole into composites and focus on each composite each day. While not completely finished, most of my flower bed is weeded and I may be able to plant on Mother’s day.

My life as a whole is scary right now. As soon as my mind veers to the whole, I bring it back to the immediate step, the first step that needs my attention. Dealing with little parcels of the whole is more achievable. I am going to deal with what is right in front of me first and then move to the next small patch in life.

My flower bed has become a metaphor of my life at present.

The ‘goods’ this week, April 26th, 2021


As a library worker, I am thrilled! I am absolutely thrilled that my daughter got an outreach programming job at a renowned library system. She interviewed on Monday, and they called her on Tuesday to offer her the job. It was a virtual interview so I could hear some of her answers. As I heard her coherent, well thought out responses, my mommy heart filled up with pride yes, but also with wonder. She sounded so grown up, so mature and thoughtful. Since this position which she truly longed for  is part time, she also got a job in our neighborhood Starbucks. Her response to the question “why do you want to work at Starbucks?” made me smile. She told the manager that Starbucks has been her reset button since she was in high school. Before an exam or after, before something important or after, during her solo Europe trip, whenever she needed a reset she sought out a Starbucks. At this juncture in her life when she just graduated and is contemplating her place in the big world ahead of her, she opted for her reset and that is why she is looking for a job there. The manager hired her despite this honest confession. For a lover of library as well as coffee, these two jobs seem like a double win for Madammommy.

I destroyed a paneer dish and then resurrected it to be truly delicious by using my ingenuity. Pat on the back because I am all that.

I woke up at 4 am on Monday to take Ryan to his 5 am practice. It was the day before pink moon. However, a brilliant (white) moon followed us all the way to Ryan’s school and then it kept me company all the way home. I kept my eyes on the roads, of course but the company of that bright, white orb in the sky above the lonely deserted road when the whole world was asleep was a peaceful sight. But no, I will not do it every week. I am not a morning person, Sean is. I only took him one morning because Sean had to work late.

We had warm days!! Hallelujah. My old bones need the sun.

I am talking to my mom while dad listens in, almost everyday.

I answered a phone call at work which made my day. The woman on the phone wanted me and my coworkers to know that we kept her sane by providing books and DVDs during pandemic. She was so very kind.

I helped a distraught woman print out some documents at work. When she tentatively asked how much it would cost, I said the print job was free. Her face lit up. She had been paying $5 to $6 at UPS store for printing documents. Her husband lost his job and money is tight. Working at a public library is extremely gratifying.

I make book suggestions all the time, completely unsolicitated. I got a message on wsapp from a long lost friend who read Funny in Farsi by Firozeh Dumas upon my recommendation and absolutely loved it. I think she read my review on my blog site. A couple of hours after her message, I got another message from a colleague who read The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart upon my suggestion and asked when could we talk about it.  She felt all the ‘feels’ as she read the book. She even said she will be open to reading anything I recommend. She does not know what she is wishing for. 🤣

Sahana got her second Covid vaccine shot on Sunday. I am so grateful.

I wrote and posted 8 days in a row which has never happened before.

Happy Monday, my friends. Stay healthy, stay alive.

PS: Ryan cleaned his closet last night. That totally classifies as one of my ‘goods’ for the week. 😀

What time is dinner?


Interracial, interfaith, transnational marriage like ours had and continues to have certain novelties, discoveries, realizations. Realizations about our differing norms, cultures, way of doing things, comfort zones. After a marriage of 24, almost 25 years, we feel like we dealt with most of them but there are times when the differences in our upbringing come to the forefront. One such realization came to me during the holiday season in 2020. It is the question that Sean asks, “What time are you planning dinner?”

I did not grow up with that question or truly planning a meal time during festivals or even during daily life. In Kolkata, when the family got together for any occasion, food was, of course, the epicenter of all festivities but the time when that food will be consumed was anybody’s guess. There were perfunctory questions about  what time is lunch or dinner but nobody knew. We ate when the food was ready. And even when the food was ready, the guests had to be coaxed to the dinner table if they were involved in a ‘jomati adda’ (rough translation would be engrossing gossip, although gossip is not really a proper translation for the Bengali word, adda). The concept of ‘adda’ is so quintessentially Bengali that there is no accurate translation of the word in any other foreign language or even any other Indian languages to the best of my knowledge. During a gathering, food was eaten in a certain hierarchical order that I have noticed – children were fed first followed by the men folk, lastly the women sat down to eat amidst much chatter, laughter and camaraderie.  As many know that in Bengal we eat with our hands. Sitting with others just laughing and chatting long after one’s food has been eaten with sticky fingers is one of my most fond memories. Time, during the days of celebration, was only of importance when one had to maintain the auspicious moments when a puja had to be performed. During the rest of the day, time was relegated to the back ground, it did not control us. We controlled our day. We were propelled during those special days by our needs – desire for togetherness, hunger, laughter, puja, rather than routine. Those days were refreshingly freeing, unbound from time.

My experience in USA has been different with my American family. During most of our celebrations – Thanksgiving, Christmas, there is a specific time for dinner. I observe in the torrential flurry of activities of my extended family, who prepare the big meals for our get togethers, how flustered they seem to get everything on the table by a certain time, all hot from the oven or stove top. Dinner will be served at 2 and that is the goal! I still can not get used to rigidity of time on a day of celebration. For me, the languorous stretch of time defines how a festival or gathering of family should be celebrated.

Sean asks me, always, what time is breakfast or dinner or lunch when I plan to celebrate bhai phota or a special breakfast or a special dinner at home. The question bothered me at the beginning. I felt the day was being segmented by tying meal times within a set time frame so I used to respond, “When it is ready!” That answer threw him off. I realized he planned his activities around the time I will give him for the meal I was preparing. So I adjusted. I give him a time and now I prepare food with one eye on the clock. It takes away the spontaneity of celebration, so when I go home celebrations take on more meaning when the chaos of meal times return.

Masked kids


I used to be quite knowledgeable about popular characters in children’s literature when my kids were little. I had a book worm who liked to spend her waking hours at the library. While checking out books for her, I got to know popular books that children read. The second one, however, was not much of a reader except for Garfield and Asterix. I still kept up with picture books and read to him to instill interest. He was more interested in tumbling around and lining up his toy cars.

While working at children’s desk, I acquired knowledge of children’s literature through my young customers, my amazing and knowledgeable colleagues and of course Google. Still many characters and titles of books that the children enquired about were unfamiliar to me. Often, I had trouble even understanding them. The reasons I could not understand them were sometimes adorable pronunciations of very young customers due to missing front teeth or their discomfort at talking to an adult. Many of them had trouble looking at me while saying the title of the book they wanted. I often asked, “Could you say the title one more time for me, honey?” And while they did, I surreptitiously typed the words I could decipher in Google to get the full title, which I then typed in our catalog search to see if we owned the book.

The pandemic hit. We closed the library for many months and I did not keep up with the popular characters of children’s literature. For example, I did not know till yesterday that the Berenstain Bears now had a baby sister!!Now that we are open and our young customers are skipping in to the library, I face a unique challenge. Masks on them make them even more indecipherable for me. Just the other day, a little girl came up to me asking for several titles. A children’s instructor perhaps would have known exactly what she was looking for. First of all, her mask combined with her cute way of talking made it difficult for me to understand her and on top of that, the titles were all unfamiliar. The poor kid must have thought who was this ignorant grown up and why was she at a children’s desk. She was very patient with me as we worked together to find most of the books she was looking for.

Pandemic brought with it unique challenges. I am adding masked kids as one of them. 🤣🤣

Having said that, my heart truly sings to see the enthusiasm for books in children of all ages who come in dancing and skipping into the library and get instantly lost in the stacks to take home stories. Their joy gives me hope.