Which means cooking. The best way I know to decompress. I’m being my father’s daughter. He loved to eat, loved to cook, loved to have people over and feed them, and perhaps most of all, loved to have my sister and me around as he pottered about in the kitchen concocting wonderful things. Later, when he became ill, I used to cook for him.
Today, the kitchen is one of my favourite places. Every once in a while, I even take work over and write at the counter. As a dal boils peacefully on the stovetop, for instance.
Two friends, Insiya and Saptarshi, have recently undertaken a labour of love. Excellent at both the exercises of food and photography–the photograph at the top of this post is from their collection–they have started a documentation of the cooking of Calcutta. This post is to celebrate their efforts and their (delicious) achievements. Here is their YouTube channel Bong Eats. You can also follow along on Google+. And read full accounts on their website. If you don’t yet know of the wonders of Bengali cuisine, prepare for a treat.
A tree lies on the river. It fell, or almost fell, some time ago–I don’t know when. It grows now, lying on the river, branches green with new leaves every year. These days, I often take my reading over and sit on the big and beautiful root system, which serves as my bench. It’s a big tree. Not ancient, not huge, but big. The root system is a very ample seat for my book and me. I dangle my feet on the water, touch the trunk that almost touches the river. The wind shakes the leaves from another tree close by. So many colours. The strength of the roots. On to another year.
I see that I have started calling it my river. As though a river could belong to any one.
Even if it could, mine is many oceans away. It always fills me with joy and sadness in equal measure to think of it. I have walked along my river in my city, Kolkata, just before it met the Bay of Bengal. And I have walked with my river past Benaras and Haridwar and Rishikesh and Gangotri and right on to the massive Gangotri Glacier. You might not believe the colours of the rock and the moraines and the ice piled on snow piled on scree–unless you had seen them. As for the colour of the sky at those many thousands of feet, let me not even try to describe. Only imagine a lift deep in your lungs. And a terrific sharpness of the senses. That is what I remember. More loveliness than I ever knew what to do with.
But maybe the waters of the globe constitute a thread of continuity. And here, in Ann Arbor, I do sometimes call the Huron mine. I then catch myself. Could I have with any other river in the world what I have with the Ganga? But the affection and even gratitude are real. As though to clinch it, there are flowers by the water almost all year long, just as soon as the snow is gone.