Tea cups


The reason why I am writing this blog is simply to delay the inevitable. I am all dressed and ready to go to the supermarket to buy groceries for the week. It is my day off and I do all the essential chores and errands on this day and before I know it, the day is done. It is almost funny how I procrastinate on chores. I did my morning Wordle (have you fallen into the wordle trap yet?), then I did the New York Times mini crossword, then I watched videos of Ariana DeBose because she is so gorgeous and so talented. Then I felt guilty for being on my phone for half the morning without ticking off any item on my to-do list. So I got my bottom off the couch, showered, dressed and almost put on my sneakers to head out. However, I discovered my Fitbit is out of charge. Why should I move a muscle if I don’t get any credit for it, so I am charging my Fitbit. Sean asked me to write an email to one of Ryan’s teachers. I fired up the computer to write that mail and now I am scribbling/typing on my blog post. Once my Fitbit is charged up I will go buy food, I promise!

I want to write down what I realized this morning while grabbing my coffee mug for my morning cuppa. Every morning I wake up, press the button on my coffee maker even before my eyes are fully open and browse my WhatsApp (when the cobwebs of sleep have not cleared from my brain, I still instinctively think there will be the usual message from ma waiting for me in the morning). The coffee maker makes my coffee, I reach to the cabinet where we keep our mugs, I don’t even look which one I grab as long it contains substantial amount and pour the coffee. Only when I have had a few sips do I glance at the mug and never give it a second thought. Now, I am not a tea drinker. People often assume that since I am from India, I enjoy tea. I don’t. I drank tea – milky, sugary tea as a young person. But I never enjoyed it. It was almost a cultural thing to do, a ritual almost. When I moved to USA, I tried coffee, I liked it and stuck with it. However, I have discovered herbal tea now, thanks to some of my friends. Especially Bigelow orange spice black tea. On very cold days, either at work or at home the idea of holding a hot cup of tea in my hand seems very cozy. So I do that. I heat some water, reach for a mug. But here is the difference. When I am about to pour hot water in a mug to make a cup of tea for myself, I choose the prettiest mug that I have. I actually pay close attention to aesthetics of my mug, I love to see the gradual transformation of the color of water as the tea steeps in it and changes the flavor of the hot water. The transformation of color in a pretty mug gives me a simple joy. The taste of the tea almost becomes secondary. It becomes, again, the ritual of making tea – an act of self care.

Do any of you do this? Take more care to choose your tea cup than your coffee mug?

Obstinate Ma plant keeps on giving…


I planted this geranium on May 11th, 2021. It was the day after ma died. Sahana had given me this plant on Mother’s Day, which was the same day as my mother exited this world. So instead of pacing the house, trying to collect my grief, bewilderment, confusion, helplessness, I put all my feelings in digging a hole in the ground and planting a life. Perhaps to compensate for the life that just left me. Since that day I have spent many hours by this plant’s side. I called this my Ma plant or refer to her as Didiya plant to my children jokingly, but if I am completely honest, a part of me believes this plant carries my mother’s energy.

Sahana was somewhat concerned about my attachment to Ma plant and warned me that it too will die. I know that. However, I will always remember this particular plant as my refuge during one of the saddest periods in my life.

It is mid October now. Slowly I am saying goodbye to my summer blooms. One by one they are falling asleep as cold weather sweeps in our area. Not Ma plant though. It had stopped giving flowers for a while during the peak of summer so I asked it why it was being obstinate. Since then we refer to it as Obstinate Ma Plant. Obstinate Ma Plant did not grow in height much but it made up for its stunted growth in beautiful blooms. Even now it is budding new flowers and opening new blooms in its full glory. It seems like it wants to live its life to the fullest before it goes. It seems like it wants to radiate all of its beauty before death claims it. I like to think it mirrors my mother’s life. She was a vibrant woman who lived her life in her own terms. She nurtured me my whole life but when the day to day taking care of me was done, she turned to see how she can nurture others. So she opened an NGO to serve the underprivileged in her area.

Although some health issues had curbed her will to live in the last few years of her life, she lit up when she talked about the NGO. (And talking about her grandchildren lit up the inner light as well). She was waiting for the pandemic to pass so she could start the work again. It was not meant to be.

Anyway, what I want to say is ma’s alter ego, the Obstinate Ma Plant keeps giving just like ma did till she could give no more.

Lastly, I have been trying to write blogs that is not full of my grief but I can not at this time of festivities.

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.

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 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.

Zion Diary, day 1.


“Is it time already?” I croaked as Sean gently touched my shoulder at 3:52 am. Our Lyft was scheduled to come at 4:30 to take us to airport for our 6:45 am flight. We were flying into Las Vegas and then driving to Springdale, Utah for a few days of hiking in Zion and Bryce Canyon. My concerns were twofold – my aging knee and my gung ho husband who would want to attempt the most strenuous hikes and I would have to remind him he is not as young as he used to be, without hurting his ego.

I said goodbye to ma, baba, (their photos on my bureau), cleaned up, blew a kiss to Sahana’s closed door and left for the airport. After almost 5 hours of flying, during which I watched all episodes of The Chair (I highly recommend) and 2 episodes of Alrawaba School for Girls, we touched down.

We got our rental car and drove for 2 and a half hours to Springdale, checked in to our lovely hotel with gorgeous view of rock faces.

After charging our devices, we went out to get the lay of the land. We took a free shuttle to the Zion visitor center and a shuttle from there took us inside the canyon. We did a loop of the Emerald pool hike which was roughly 3 and a half miles in total. After many months, my heart felt a familiar sensation. I vaguely remembered it. It was happiness. It was gratitude that my parents gave me life so I could witness this wonder of nature. The magnificence of the rock faces, the silent strength of nature humbled me and set me free, at least for the time being. Pictures do not do the grandeur of the Zion canyon justice but we made a humble attempt to capture what we could for memory.

There is a word in Bangla – bikkhipto which roughly translates to restless. My mind is restless, angry. My heart is sad and I always question what bad karma led to this tragedy in my life. My ‘why’s and ‘what’s receded to the back corner of my mind as I hiked up and stopped often to imbue the beauty surrounding me within my soul. I got a reprieve.

If I am not too exhausted, I will continue my Zion diary in the coming days.

The “goods” in the week of August 23rd.


I wrote so much after my parents died but now I do not feel the urge to write at all. I did not want to continue with writing the “goods” blog either but forced myself to do it since it makes me focus on all that is good in my life.

Sahana did a virtual interview for a job. Her door was closed and I could not hear the questions, but I could hear some of her responses from our living room. As I listened to my girl talk, I marveled at how eloquent she has grown up to be. How thoughtful, how introspective! I remembered the softness of her little body nestled in the crook of my arm, way back when, as I read books to her. Her eyes focused on the pictures, mind completely lost in the story.

I continue to laugh with my coworkers. It is a transitional phase at work and often, we have to sigh in frustration. But I work with such tremendously creative, adaptive and hard working people that despite everything, we know we are all in this together. How did I get so lucky?

A trip to farmer’s market once a week with friends is always a joy. Fresh bread, fresh vegetables, chorizo sausage…

In a couple of weeks, Sean and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary. I have known him more than half of my life and have been married to him for almost half of my life.

A dear friend had health scare but is on the mend after medical intervention.

Ryan got placed in varsity water polo. This stuff is important in this country. He is so excited. His sparkling eyes as he talks about defense and goals and assists make me smile.

He is moving into boarding this week. After being together for year and a half, I will miss him. However, I am happy for him. He is ready and so excited.

Ryan has grown several inches in a year and a half of pandemic. He is very close to baba’s height now. Last night at dinner, he said, “Dadai did not give me the chance to catch up to him and then grow past him. I can not lord it over him when I get taller than him. Very unfair!” It was sad but also heartwarming at the same time. These little things…

I took off from work for a couple of weeks. I hope to write blogs about what we do. I hope I have the motivation.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo is my book suggestion for the week. This novel-in-verse was soul touching.

Whenever I think of ma and baba, and I think of them all the time, their young, smiling faces come to the forefront. Not the faces as years went by and they got frail. It is interesting how mind sifts through the sadder memories and preserves the happy ones.

Hope your list of “goods” is long and you have a great week.

The “goods” in the week of August 16th.


This week had some unexpected “goods”.

It is always hard to come back from a vacation and go to work. Going back on Monday after a week long travel with Sean produced some groans from me. Sahana surprised me at work by dropping in with my favorite drink. That made the day so much better.

An elderly woman came in looking for books on immigrant experience. Naturally, we got talking. I mentioned I was an immigrant myself and am also very interested in reading about the experiences of other immigrants. After selecting a few of the books I suggested, she started heading towards the stairs. Then she came back to me and said, “I wanted to tell you, I am very happy that you are here.”

On that note, I just finished an anthology of essays called A Map is Only One Story. Twenty writers wrote short essays on “immigration, family and the meaning of home.” I could relate to some of the experiences written in the book.

I had some pleasurable interactions with customers, both in person and via email. They were helpful in reminding me why I love my job. I am afraid my love for the job is somewhat waning. I needed these interactions as a reminder to focus my attention on my customers.

I had an unpleasant conversation with an anti-masker at work. The man was trying to get a raise out of me by continuing with a pointless, circutitious argument about whether mask is mandated in county buildings (it is in our county) and if it is, am I going to throw him out as he was not wearing one. If I were not going to throw him out, the mandate meant nothing. We continued in this vein for quite a while as he became more and more belligerent. The “good” is how unaffected I remained at his aggressive behavior and ended the conversation with my final line. As I turned away from him, I said in my head, “Dude, I just went through hell in my life. Whatever you are doing right now – the belligerence, the aggressiveness is NOTHING to me. Absolutely nothing. You don’t scare me.” The level of trauma I recently experienced has made me intolerant of posturing fools complaining about first world problems like his right to not wear a mask in a building where mask is mandated.

On the 3 month anniversary (anniversary is a happy word though, I should think of another word to mark the death days) of baba’s death, Sahana picked me up from work and handed me a Cadbury Fruit and Nut chocolate bar. On the 3rd of every month, for as long as I can remember, baba bought me a bar of that particular chocolate when I lived at home. Even when I was 26 years old. After I left, he would buy me that chocolate bar every time I headed to the airport – either to go to Delhi or USA. He got paid on the 3rd of every month before retirement. Sahana remembered.

We watched the movie Respect in a movie theater on Friday. It is a biopic of Aretha Franklin. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Ryan cooked lobster claws and they were amazing.

I spoke to my mashi, who is closest to a mother figure in my life and I spoke to my cousin sister. They are my connections to home now.

I made a blueberry peach pie on Sunday to fortify us for the week.

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

The “goods” in the week of July 26th.


Not just the “goods” but the best thing this week was Sahana’s birthday. Although it was a week day, we went out for dinner and watched a movie. I love to celebrate birthdays and this was the birthday of my special girl. I can not lie, the day was bittersweet. I shed a lot of tears and also felt an immense surge of love for life with Sahana in it.

Ryan finished his 6 weeks of summer biology on Friday. He ended up with decent grades and judging by his incessant chatter on the subject, some knowledge.

Sahana wanted a beach day with family for her birthday. So the four of us went to the beach on Friday.

Our youngest driver drove us to our hotel and there were just two white knuckle moments in the entire journey.

Saturday was perfect for a beach day. Sahana and I went to the beach while the boys lazed in the hotel room for a while watching Olympics before joining us.

I read next to Sahana on the sand.

Sean gave me a heart attack when he went to swim in the ocean and disappeared without telling me he was going for a swim. I thought he had drowned. I even spoke to the young lifeguard on duty. The “goods” is he did not drown. He came back and was even sheepish when I told him I was worried sick.

We had unexpectedly good Mediterranean food at the beach. And of course, ice cream.

It was good to be together without any constraints on our times.

I was craving to be near water since the loss. I was able to sit and watch the waves crash relentlessly. There is a belief life is like a wave, building up and then crashing before becoming one with water again. I thought ma and baba are back where they came from after giving me life and a lifetime of love.

Sahana drove us back. As I sat next to her and watched her navigate traffic and heavy rain I again wondered how quickly time passes.

I hope your list of “goods” is long and have a great week.