Winter or more aptly the cooler months in south India, free from the heat and rain are ideal for travel. Following the school calendar🗓, opportunity presents itself starting from October with the Puja holidays, followed by the Diwali hols and finally the Christmas holidays. And going by the travel trends reported in the papers, the millennials are opting for short bursts of travel – less expensive, less luggage, more breaks – rather that one long annual sojourn. I love it😘.
So yes, travel is on cards this December and am looking forward to it. It’s being planned only for 3 days which leaves plenty of time to lounge at home in the Bangalore winter chill, sipping a glass of wine and enjoying some good stories. Here are the recent pickings👇
Right on top of the pile is “Friends From College” by Devapriya Roy. Before the book came into being, the author published the story as a serialised novel in The Telegraph, an English daily newspaper published in Kolkata. Set in the winter months in Kolkata it’s a perfect read for this time of the year.
We travel with the protagonist Charulata Ghosh from London to Calcutta or Kolkata for her cousin’s wedding. It has all the NRI nostalgia that accompanies such homecomings. Free from the trappings of marriage, which means her outings to the familiar jaunts in Calcutta are with friends – friends from her college.
Lata’s home is the Ghosh Mansion which is occupied by not only her mother Manjulika and her maid Nimki, but also by the extended family. As the house is bedecked with lights for the wedding, Lata is reminded of her own wedding there several years prior “Lata did not feel sad, no. The feeling that suffused her at night was sort of emptiness.” Her mother is hopeful though that Lata maybe able to find happiness again.
The families in the story are well heeled upper middle class and the characters seem familiar – “Shopping, conversation, eating well and the prospects of more of the same”; as they go about the city, you are happy to tag along.
While she is on a holiday, her college mates are busy balancing their professional and personal lives. Among Lata’s friends is the film-maker Ronny Banerjee, publisher Aaduri Bagchi, the academicians Vikramjit, Bappa Das Biswas and their families. Two kids Pixie and Josh aged nine and ten respectively and baby Posto. Not to forget the new additions into the friends circle by way of work and marriage, all add to the sarcasm and sparkle – more the merrier.
Then there is the drama of the upper middle class inter-caste marriage considering Lata’s cousin is not marrying a Bengali. The big fat Indian wedding provides the apt a backdrop for the old collegemates to reconnect and pick up pieces from the past. But of course, everyone keeps a tab on everyone else via Facebook. Into the crazy melee of family and friends, throw in some exes also and the story gets meatier.“What was the protocol for such a situation? An ex-jamai turning up – uninvited by most counts – at a family wedding? Ex-family, that is.” Are we looking at another shot at happily ever after?
Weddings are always nice and to read about them even better esp the details of the saris and lehengas – tea green Benarasi sari, cream and silver Dhakai jamdani sari, blue tussar sari with Basra pearls, white Chanderi trimmed with gold zari – only a female can derive pleasure from reading about wedding trousseau🥰. The book describes a perfect winter wedding in Calcutta.
The book is delightful read, fun and gives you a warm fuzzy feeling. And to conclude here’s one of Ronny Banerjee’s famous chao questions “In which Indian city are many things forbidden?”
You will get the answer in the book😘.
Till next post, take care !!