Kolkata: Durga Puja (Part 2)

So, the celebration for Durga Puja lasted for a number of days, and the eighth day was considered the most auspicious. Because of that, Azri joined his colleagues in wearing Indian’s traditional clothes to work on that particular Thursday 🙂

Left: Heehee 🙂 I made him take a photo like on first day of Raya; Right: Azri with the ladies

He wore another kurta on Friday too. When he showed me a bunch of photos he took with his co-workers, I went “Awww, their saris look so good, especially the red one!!!” I told him that I want to wear the beautiful garment to an event one day, and he shared that we are invited to a wedding next year. But hah, I’m secretly hoping (okay, not so secret anymore) that there will be something this year…

So anyway, on the same Thursday night, I heard music coming from my condominium’s clubhouse. I live on the 24th storey, so you can imagine how loud the music was playing. I was a little grumpy about it at first ‘cause it was memekak like orang kahwin bawah blok. But once I got over the distraction, I went on with my everyday routine.

On Friday night, music started thumping again. This time, I was like, “F*ck it, if you can’t beat them, join them.” I changed into my kurta and checked out what was happening downstairs.

My expectations: Loud music = Singing and coordinated vigorous dancing, like the ones in Bollywood films.

Reality: Senior citizens choir. Look –

They didn’t look very cheerful but at least the song was upbeat. Hahaha!

The crowd in which I was seated with were mostly elderlies and I was absolutely underdressed! The ladies were in their more elegant kurtas/saris, had gold jewelry around their wrists and necks, and hanging from their ears, and some even had flowers in their hair. And obviously, their faces were beautified with make-up. Me? My hair was half wet ‘cause I just showered, my face was bare, my kurta was plain and the only jewelry I had on were my wedding ring and engagement earrings.

I contemplated if I should stay longer since I was not dressed for the occasion and ‘cause I didn’t understand what was happening as 98% of the performance was in Hindi.

People with OCD would not be able to watch this dance

In the end, I stayed on for another 1.5 hours. The senior citizens sang for half hour, followed by some slow and uncoordinated dance rituals. Alas, when a man started singing macam faham, I gave up and went up to my apartment.

On the way back, I saw younger people hanging around the carpark area. They were donning casual modern clothes and bored faces. I didn’t blame them – I’d probably wear the same expression, especially if my parents dragged me down.

At 11pm, I heard the bass dropping and I paced around my apartment, wondering if I should give the event a second chance. Crowd started cheering loudly too, urging me to go down. This time round, I changed into a casual top and put on minimal make-up.

Start of the real partay!

A beat-boxing and breakdancing performance greeted me and the crowd was more hyped up. And soon, a deejay was spinning the local’s pop music! Plastic chairs were cleared and the space changed into a dance floor! Obviously, I couldn’t sing along but dancing along was easy 😛

Wish Azri and my party friends were here to form our own circle ’cause I was too shy to selit

Soon, the deejay switched music to what I assume to be traditional dancing music. From what I understood, it was supposed to be a couple’s dance but I saw groups forming too, and they were synchronize-dancing with sticks in their hands. It was a pretty sight!

After an hour or so, my back started to ache (#blametheperiod) and I decided to go home. And then at 12.50AM, I regretted going home early ‘cause the deejay started playing English pop music. Heh. But hey, overall it was an awesome experience! Something that only living in Kolkata could give me 😀

Kolkata: Durga Puja (Part 1)

“Bby, can you have your off day on Wednesday? I wanna go pandal hopping,” I asked Azri the week before. But he couldn’t ‘cause it was peak period so he had to work all weekdays. I wasn’t upset but meh, it sucked a little to not participate in the locals’ huge celebration. If Jolene and Biren or Josephine and Raj were in town, I would have asked them but both couples were away so double meh, nobody to go with and I didn’t want to roam around alone amongst the crowd.

Wednesday came and at 8PM, I got a text from Azri asking me to get ready by 2AM. That took me by surprised but hehe, I was excited! YAY, WE WERE GOING PANDAL HOPPING!

So, a little background: Durga Puja is an annual Hindu celebration in which the devotees worship the warrior goddess named Durga. The festival rejoices her victory against the buffalo demon, Mahishasura, and in essence, the triumph of Good over Evil. The festivities take place over a total of 10 days in India, and it is most popular in Kolkata where more than thousands of pandal (gigantic structure of the goddess) are set up every year.

Rai fetched me at two and soon, Azri and I were at our first pandal. I was awed at the details of the large art piece:

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My favourite pandal of the night.

Here, Durga is the one in the middle with ten arms. She’s equipped with weapons which are given by various male Hindu gods and rides a lion. She is seen to have already defeated Mahishasura. And she is accompanied by her children, four other Hindu deities: Ganesha, God of Good Beginnings; Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity; Saraswati, Goddess of Knowledge and Music; and Kartikeya (God of War). Also, at the top right, you can see a framed image of Lord Shiva, her husband.

(I would love to share the rich history of Durga and the symbolisms and what not, but that would mean that there is a possibility that the post will become a paper, so I won’t. If you’re a sucker of symbolisms like me, you can do a quick google search and lotsa information will surface!)

The second pandal we saw was less colourful. Instead, it looked luxurious with the gold decorations:

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Okay, I don’t think real gold was used here. But as extravagant as it sounds, there is one pandal adorned with 22kg of pure gold somewhere in North Kolkata!

The third pandal had some psychedelic vibe. And because it was situated near a carnival, it was crowded:

Here, we saw the drastic difference between the older and younger generations – the former came to pray, while the latter came for selfies.

We checked out the carnival for a bit and tried ice cream made out of a manual roller machine and paan:

Top left: Walk to pasar malam, feat the back of Rai; Middle left: Paan seller; Top right: Ice cream seller; Bottom left: Azri with shaved ice cream; Bottom right: Me with paan.

The ice cream was yummy, but the paan… The paan was too much for me! Paan is a traditional Indian mouth freshener made of betel leaf and spices. A few bites into the mini dish, tastes that my taste buds had never tasted before burst out and I had to spit it out. Undeniably, it was refreshing, but I just couldn’t contain the strong spice flavours. It was a good experience nonetheless, and I had minty breath throughout the night 😛

The forth pandal we hopped to had a special building erected to shelter the idols:

Just look at the details and you can’t help but give the artisans A++ for the work they’ve put in for both interior and exterior…

The next one we visited had a funky feel to it. The deities were not as elaborated as the rest, but the décor of the place was definitely a lot more intricate:

An argument between a security guard and a father broke out here, and my kepo husband and driver (and other visitors) watched and stared. I had to nudge them twice before we moved out. Heh.

The last pandal we saw was huge and was housed in a big building. Apparently, this was one of the more atas structures:

It was already nearing 4AM and my goodness, the crowd there was so alive! For the obvious reason, I couldn’t take a nice frontal shot of Durga and the rest.

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After the sixth pandal, Azri and my legs were feeling tired from all the walking and we decided to call it a night. On the way home in the car, we took in the decorative lights hung almost everywhere. And I thanked my husband again for organizing the pandal hopping trip 🙂

 

What do you wish for on your birthday?

You think you’ve moved on but you watch Please Like Me Season 4 Episode 5 and you start sniffling and every single word from the characters sounded almost exactly like what had been said before by your family and friends and you end up crying.

That happened just a few hours ago.

I’ve spent the past three weeks back in Singapore. (Hence my lack of update. Shouldn’t be an excuse, but it is. Hah.) Most of the time, I was socially active. But there were times when I felt like I had eternity to myself, like lunch and supper on September 13.

It felt absolutely weird yet very right to feel lonely during those two specific meal times. For lunch, I had café latte and wonderful waffles from Wimbly Lu. And for supper, I had fries and a couple of strong and stellar sodas. (If only I can get full with this little amount of food everyday!) I tried to fill my alone time reading Vulgar Things, but my mind kept drifting away on life. And death.

I gave up on the book entirely and started thinking a lot about the relations I have with strangers, friends, family. I evaluated each one of them and I decided that maybe strangers should stay strangers. And then I delved into reflecting how her death affects my life, and if my death would affect others’ lives. I know it was morbid to think about my own death on the day I celebrate another year in the world, but I couldn’t help it. I figured that there were a lot of possible consequences and hoped that nobody would mourn too long. Probably one day, or one hour is enough.

Anyway, fast forward a week later and strangers didn’t really stay as strangers. (One did though, and I hope I will never cross paths with him.) Instead, they offered to become options. And it also dawned on me that her death impacted me more than I thought it had.

I don’t feel like watching the final episode of the final season of Please Like Me ‘cause I’m scared it will be painful again, but I should. We should.

Kolkata: New Market aka Hogg Market

When Azri and I walked through New Market, also known as Hogg Market, for the Street Food Walk, we thought, “Hey, it’s not so bad to walk here in the evening… Let’s try going here again!” The air was cool (WINTER IS COMING! Unlike GoT, we welcome the lower temperature.) and it seemed safe to walk when the sun’s out. You can refer to first photo of the previous post to get a glimpse of what I mean.

We checked out to this once Whites-only market* on one afternoon of our first month here and the experience was not good. Sun was scorching and we were not used to the messiness yet. Plus, we hadn’t had lunch, so we ended up being grumpy.

(*FYI: During the colonial times, British people were too snobbish and racist to go to the markets with Indians, so they build this grand one, which official name was Sir Stuart Hogg Market. They couldn’t get any more English than that. But the nickname New Market was more popular, and it stuck on.)

So with a new found hope that New Market could offer us more positive memories, we made our way there last Sunday. And…

Say hello to the oldest shopping market located in the heart of Kolkata

“OMG, WHYYY SO CROWDED?!?!?!” was my first question. Almost immediately, it hit us that we went there on a weeknight two weeks ago, and not on a weekend. Hah. The crowd was unbelievable. I don’t think I’ve ever found myself walking around with as many people before. The most I could think of is at Singapore’s Bazaar Geylang during Ramadan, and that wasn’t even half of the population here!

It was common to being pushed around and to push others around at the market (Generally, women push women and men push men.) but you’ve got to give it to them – Like their crazy traffic, in which honks go off non-stop, the locals don’t rage on. And I’m sure the movement of people here would look seamless from a bird’s eye view.

New Market has indoor and outdoor shopping areas. Azri and I went to the former one first to look at the garments. Sellers, mostly young men, were incessantly touting. They followed us around and kept grabbing Azri’s arm. For people like us who are used to personal space, it was annoying. I couldn’t look at anything without someone interrupting! Also, ventilation was bad and we were sweating profusely. So, we headed out in less than half hour.

Left: Co-existence of both the traditional and the modern;
Right: I was so excited with my buy, I had to try it on as soon as we got home 🙂

Outside was a more refreshing experience! Breeze was very shiok and shop vendors were equally chilled. We managed to stop, and take photos, and look through the items displayed. It was very enjoyable and enriching to soak in the exchanges amongst locals over buying/selling both traditional and modern things…

We happily collected a few stuffs from different shops. My favourite is the kurta (in photo) which cost me 200 rupees, about S$4.40! It’s so lepak and sweet 😀 I got myself two other casual kurta and two pairs of leggings, all for 150 rupees each (Hee!) while Azri purchased himself a more formal looking kurta at a higher price. Unlike women, men do not wear traditional clothes on a daily basis, so theirs cost a little more. We also bought our families dressy Indian’s clothes which can be worn during festivities. I’d say money well spent!

Delicious deep fried pakora 😛

And of course, amidst all the walk, Azri wanted to munch on something and we had these tasteful pakora for 20 rupees. They were like crispy and crunchy vada/vadai, bursting with rich flavours! Really yummy…

Left: Our sweaty and oily happy faces; Right: Remember there was once I wrote (this post) that if a zombie apocalypse started here, I would not survive? This crowd confirms my theory.

Overall, we are glad that we gave New Market a second chance. But of course, we would go there on a weekday evening the next time round. While the crowd was still bearable, I would prefer not to have other people’s sweat constantly rubbing against my skin. Can’t wait to shop there again!

Kolkata: Local Dhaba and Street Food

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India celebrated its Independence Day last Tuesday. We didn’t join in any of the celebrations ’cause Azri was working. But we did sign up for a Street Food Walk a couple of days later just to feel a little more like a local.

Of course, we were scared about getting food poisoning, but we took all sorts of precautions (e.g. being more disciplined in eating probiotics daily and having diarrhoea pills on standby) and we just put on an #okgo mindset. So, we were excited for the walk! However, the tour didn’t meet our standards. There wasn’t any structure in both food and historical/intellectual contents and we didn’t learn much. Plus, the tour was called Street Food Walk, but we ate at restaurants more than eating by the streets. It was disappointing. Guess the saving grace was trying out new food. And oh, not getting any tummy discomforts at all.

Location 1: Anadi Cabin
Interesting food: Duck Egg Moghlai Parata

I don’t know how exactly to describe duck egg but I know that it goes extremely well in a prata/parata. Someone should sell this in Singapore! Super sinful indulgence 😛

Location 2: Nizam’s Restaurant
Interesting food: Pudina (mint) Sauce

I didn’t like the spices which was on the tandoori chicken (right photo) but tandoori fish (top left photo) was fresh and melted in my mouth, and the pudina sauce and the “Indian mustard” (this is exactly the words used by the tour guide) were great dips.

Location 3: Nahoum’s
Interesting fact: Kolkata’s last Jewish bakery 

I didn’t enjoy the food here. Puffs were too dry and cakes were too light. I’ve tried desserts elsewhere and I’ve came to conclusion that my tastebuds do not know how to appreciate the way the locals appreciate their sweet things.

 Location 4: Maa Kali Stores

Nothing special about the sandwich but watching the sandwich making process made me want that sandwich grill so bad… I’m dreaming of egg mayo grilled sandwich and spicy tuna with cheese ones too….. Ok, I’m drooling.

Location 5: Russel Punjabi Dhaba (Roadside Restaurant)
Interesting food: Chicken Bharta

Raw onions (top right photo) were served with spices and lime juice as a starter. Most of the restaurants here do that, but Azri and I never touched it. But this time round, we tried. Azri has always been a fan of onions, eating them raw with ketupat and satay or in his sandwiches, so he liked it. I prefer my onions chopped and cooked, so it’s not for me.

But the chicken bharta, a Punjabi dish which has pulled chicken soaked in an onion and tomato based gravy, was a stellar. We had it with naan, but all I could imagine was having it with the duck egg parata. I’m drooling again.

Location 5a: Some street
Interesting food: Papri Chat

Crunchy, sweet and sour, and occasionally hot – that’s how I would describe the dish. According to some online sources, papri means wafers, while chat means snacks or fast food.

Location 5b: Some street
Interesting food: Aloo Kabli

Main ingredients for this Indian snack was aloo (potato), chickpeas and beansprouts. For the first time ever, I found beansprouts to look glorious (right middle photo)! Anyway, I was too full for this snack and while I did take a bite of it, I don’t actually remember how it tasted like. Hah.

Location 6: Shibuji
Interesting drink: Masala Soda

I was very skeptical about having spices in my soft drink but oh wow, yums! It was Coke which parties in your mouth! Apparently, it helps with digestion. True or not, it was a good drink to end the tour with.

Like I’ve mentioned, not the best street walk we’ve been on ’cause we didn’t learn anything more than on the superficial level. (And my goodness, it was expensive.) But yes, at least we did learn a little still.

Kolkata: The Oberoi Grand Hotel

Left: Jolene and my Oberoi’s signature blend tea with a side of oatmeal cookies; Right: Fresh lilies <3

Nearly two weeks ago, Jolene and Biren jio-ed Azri and me to have lunch and tea at The Oberoi Grand Hotel’s Threesixtythree°. We had a good time catching up over a lovely spread of buffet. One of the things that we shared with them was us thinking of having a staycation, and they highly recommended the hotel that we were in. Honestly, no matter how much they tried to convince us, we didn’t think much of the hotel…

…Until the staff gave us a tour of the hotel rooms after our meal. Perhaps the staff had extremely impressive marketing skills or the heritage decor was simply too charming, but whatever the reasons were, AZRI AND I WERE SOLD! We booked a room as soon as we got home 🙂

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The reason for our staycation was to celebrate our 8th year anniversary. Shamelessly, we stated that in our booking ’cause I love how hotels put in a little extra effort for our personal celebrations. So, I was expecting cliche things like towels folded in shapes of swans on our bed and maybe a stalk of flower. What I absolutely did not expect was to be blown away by the not-little-at-all-but-omg-wow effort put in by the hotel staff!

We were picked from our residence at noon. Once we stepped out of the car, a young hotel staff, D, greeted us by name and surprised us with an upgrade of accommodation. We were delighted with his news! And oh, our hearts brimmed happily even more when D showed us the luxurious suite… We’ve had lived in suites before this, but nowhere else had given out the deep and rich vibe like Oberoi Grand’s.

Our Classic Suite: Beautifully aged furniture fitted complimentarily in a room of the grand colonial building (which was built in the late 19th century.) The suite was soothing and stunning…

Once D had professionally settled administrative matters with us, he called in his colleague who presented us with the chocolate cake above. We were pleasantly surprised again! They really knew how to make our smiles wider…

Side story: We don’t have a weighing scale at our apartment, so when I saw one in the toilet, I immediately stepped on it. “Bby, apparently I’ve lost 2kg. Really ah, got difference in my body?” I asked Azri. “I think the machine purposely reduce the numbers so that you’d eat more at the hotel. You’d think you’ve lost weight so you can order more food and then, they earn more!” jested my husband. “Why can’t you just answer yes or no. Why are you so mean to me?” I sighed. Azri laughed casually. “Why am I with you???” I asked. I paused for a moment. And then I answered my own question, “Oh yah, for things like these…” (By the way, the machine showed that Azri gained 2kg, so I guess it’s not spoilt.)

Left: Us, before the spa treatments; Right: The therapy room

Azri and I knew that we wanted to treat ourselves a spa package when we first stepped into the therapy rooms during the tour. There was something magically romantic about them… Also, I was very keen to have an authentic Indian massage, something that I’ve never tried before.

After deliberating on the many choices, we picked the package called ‘Journey to India’. It was a 3-hour spa ritual consisting of Ayurdevic body massage with hot herbal pouch therapy, Padabhyanga foot massage, Marma facial massage, Indian scalp massage and a warm bath.

Left: Pouches and kasa bowl were tools warmed in hot oil for the massages; Right: Our refreshed selves 🙂

The whole experience was ridiculously relaxing… I used to say Thai massages are my favourite, now I’d say that Indian ones are the best! The warm herbal oil, which was specifically chosen for our body type based on a questionnaire that we filled prior to the treatment, was perfect for the symmetrical and stress-relieving strokes…

It had been some time since the both of us felt really at ease, with no sad or worrying thoughts in mind. And so, we truly appreciated the tender love given to us at the spa by the two therapists, J and KX.

Before we left the spa, another therapist wished us, “Happy Anniversary” and gifted us a box of body polisher. She made me feel more special!

Just when we thought that the hotel had given us the most exceptional service, the staff outdid themselves by surprising us yet again! They had cleaned our suite while we were gone, placed gorgeous roses by my bedside, and drew half a bath, prettified with red petals. Amazing!

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We ordered room service for dinner since we felt too chilled to dress up to go to the restaurant. Plus, Azri wanted to catch Man-U versus West Ham’s soccer match. Because he hadn’t watched a live match in ages, I agreed. But after Man-U scored their second goal, making it obvious that the men in red would win, I gave up on watching TV and soaked myself in the tub, reading ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’…

Breakfast at Threesixtythree° 😛

When we were planning on the staycation, I told Azri that his anniversary present to me would be to wake up for breakfast. It’s been a long time since I had hotel breakfast buffet, let alone breakfast food, and the PBG in me yearned for that.

Of course, Azri woke up early for me (hehe, 0830 instead of our usual 1200!) and I was extremely ecstatic to see the variety of food! It helped that we were seated near the buffet line, and were facing a wall adorned with paintings of people from the colonial times. Azri gifted me with the best anniversary present, hee! 😀

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The Oberoi Grand Hotel serviced us with nothing but royalty treatment, and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it… The soul enriching experience encourages me to visit other Oberoi hotels, as well as Raffles Singapore since the hotel manager shared with us that our local heritage hotel was as extraordinary. If you were to visit Kolkata, I’d highly recommend you to stay here…

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To the one who’ve spent the past 8 years with me:

Thank you for being [insert whatever explicit] stubborn.

And may we do more wtf things in our 9th year!

#nevergrowingold

<3

(p.s. tagged banana split, you owe me!)

Kolkata: Do you want to be my domestic helper?

Rain 4It’s been raining a lot here.

Sometimes, our apartment feels like it’s being possessed ever since the monsoon season hit. The heavy rain gives out low thudding sounds, while the wind, which has picked up super speed and strength, bangs loudly against the windows. I swear if the wind goes on like that for 24 hours straight, the full length balcony glass doors will shatter. And I wouldn’t know what to do if that were to happen. Probably take photos for the blog ’cause #priorities.

Because of the rain and wind, our apartment gets dustier more easily. And more insects are swarming our living room lights for warmth. I feel bad killing the insects, but I can’t have them breeding, right? So I’ve been spraying a lot of insecticide, which in turn, makes my living space filthier.

One of Azri’s bosses had once urged us to get a domestic helper to clean the apartment. Initially, I was reluctant ‘cause I thought I could handle it and I wasn’t sure if I could trust a stranger with our valuables. But now, I welcome the idea with open arms.

Most of Azri’s colleagues who are locals here have domestic helper coming to their homes daily to clean, including doing dishes. I was appalled to know how much they cost – It is an average of 900 rupees (i.e. almost S$20) per month! Like, what?! But Azri’s colleagues did warn us that because of the location that we are staying in, price may be higher.

We don’t need daily help. We just need want weekly ones. But it has proven to be hard to find. Emailing cleaning companies was futile ‘cause they never replied back. Calling them was equally useless ‘cause they couldn’t communicate in English. And the one recommendation which we received walked out on us on our first meeting.

It was quite rude of her to walk away just like that. But I suppose, from her facial expression, she felt insulted? Honestly, I still cannot comprehend why. Rai, our driver, was the one who suggested her and acted as our translator during the meeting, since she couldn’t speak English. After a tour of our apartment, we started negotiating the price. She quoted 3000 rupees, which was ridiculous for a four-days(-two-hours-each)-per-month job! She reduced her rate to 2500 rupees and said that she would come everyday. We didn’t agree and repeated that we only needed her once a week. We counter-offered 500 rupees and once Rai conveyed that to her, she walked off immediately. What just happened?! It was more amusing than anything else, though. I mean, we were offering her more for less work (since based on her quotation, she should be earning 333 rupees for the four days), but I guess she didn’t see it that way. I don’t know, it was strange. Rude and strange.

So anyway, we are back to square one now. I suppose we will just have to pay ourselves to make sure our apartment is clean, until we find a reasonable candidate. Any of you want to fly to Kolkata and be my domestic helper for S$10.90 a month? You just have to mop the floor, including the balcony which is filled with pigeon poo, and clean the three toilets weekly… Plus, you get to hang out with me! Let me know if you’re interested. HAH.

Kolkata: Security, Spotify and Seared cake

Security seems to be upmost priority to malls and shops in Kolkata. Every time we enter a mall, Azri and I need to enter a metal detector scanner and the mall’s security guards will check the content of our bags. Some shops have their own security guards and we then need to either surrender our bags at the counter or let the guards cable tie our bags. Some other shops have their sales staff to double as security officers, trailing us everywhere, without offering help, just to ensure that we don’t nick anything.

Security measures at supermarket is even stricter.

  1. Before entering, we have to cable tie our bags.
  2. Upon entering, we are greeted by security officers, as though reminding us that “Hey, you’re going into a highly secured area!”
  3. Once we step into the supermarket, we cannot exit from the entrance. (For example, you put both your feet in and you decide that you want to go to the shop next door instead, you are not allowed to turn and walk out. You can only exit at the designated exit, which is at the other end of the supermarket.)
  4. After choosing the groceries, we make the payment and the cashier writes down the number of bags filled with our items on the the corner of the receipt (see example below).
  5. These bags are cable tied by the cashier’s assistant. (Yes, cashiers here have assistants, but that’s a story for another day.)
  6. At the exit, another security officer checks our receipt and punches a hole once he approves that the number of bags we have tallies with the number on the receipt.

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Why I am telling you all these? It’s because a few days ago, I went to the supermarket and lost the bloody receipt just after paying 1450 rupees for my weekly groceries. I have zero idea how the receipt dropped out of my grip, but it did. And so, I was swearing to myself about how stupid and careless I was for a good two minutes, before trying to exit. Obviously, the security guard didn’t allow me to exit.

I had to go back to the queue and the guy who served me had to call another security officer before he could print me a new receipt. I was so thankful that I didn’t have to fork out money for my stupid mistake. After the security guard scrutinized my items, he crumpled the new receipt. In my head, I went “WHAT, WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT TO MY TICKET FOR EXIT???” But I didn’t say anything, just stayed cool. Good that I remained calm ’cause he then reached into his pocket and pulled out my old receipt. HAH. I didn’t bother to ask where he found it. I just thanked him and went out as quick as I can ‘cause my goodness, so bodoh and embarrassing.

So, note to self: Stop being careless.

Note to others visiting Kolkata: Don’t be careless. Or overwhelmed by the security processes.

Anyway, I think Spotify was being mean to me the other day. Look at what it suggested to me:

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I know my week hasn’t been perfect but for it to suggest that, TSK! Haha, I listened to the playlist anyway and it was actually nice to hear Lana Del Ray, Avril Lavigne and The Lumineers. But after a few songs, I had to change the playlist ‘cause it got quite depressing.

That said, no, my life doesn’t suck at all.

Sure, there was death and the consequences. And okay, both Azri and I suffered from terrible food poisoning and fever for a couple of days this week. And well, I accidentally seared my supposed-to-be-spongey cake. But my life is still relatively good 🙂

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Say hello to the floral designed plates that the apartment’s owner has left for us and my late mother-in-law’s cute little wooden bowl that she gave me before we moved to Kolkata

For one, I managed to whip up Hainanese Chicken Rice. Need more work on my not-Hainanese-at-all chicken and soup, but I think I did really well chili sauce and rice for a first timer!

Left: My messy batter; Middle top: Promising looking cake in the oven;
Middle bottom: WTF BURNT WTF; Right: Slightly dry outcome

And for another, my cake was edible and tasted pretty good. It was burnt on the surface and the cake was a little crumbly, but okay lah. Forgiven myself for the rookie mistake ‘cause I’ve not baked cakes for two years.

But later, I unforgiven myself when…

“Sayang, your cake nice. I cut myself a big slice yesterday night. Banana cake, eh?”
“Banana???”
“No? Er, nutty flavoured? It’s like banana and walnut cake lah.”
“WHAT! No lah. Milo. Milo marble.”
“OH, this design is intentional? I thought you anyhow do. And oh, Milo? Really???”

LOL, cake was epic failure ‘cause my husband couldn’t figure it out. But okay lah, the cake tasted okay, so okay lah. Like what my girlfriend, Azy, texted me when I whined to her about the burnt top, “Nvm la try again next time!”

Will definitely update if my next bake turns out as what I vision it to be. In the meantime, you can text me to not screw anything up again. I welcome the reminders 😀

Kolkata: New experiences

“Bby, tengok your left!” I instructed excitedly.

Azri looked up from his work phone and turned to his left.

CB sia you! WHY???”

I laughed hysterically.

Not long after, I nudged him to follow my gaze.

Again, his immediate strong response made me roar with laughter.

Sitting in the car for long rides has became a little more unenjoyable these days. Apart from the usual pity for the beggars and #firstworldproblem backaches, my mind kept on flashing sorrowful images that I didn’t want to think about. I needed to distract myself. So…

I’ve been pointing out people who pick their nose to Azri! It was not hard to locate them at all. Every fifteen minutes or so, if you set your mind on finding the gems (no pun intended!), you’d see one in a car or walking on the streets or in the restaurant by the road! I’ve always been disgusted by individuals’ habit of picking nose in public, so these people, especially the ones who dug deep, grossed me out. But they served as satisfying diversion ‘cause it brought me joy to see Azri all repulsed! (Side note: he enjoys sickening me by frequently picking his nose before me.)

But of course, their unhygienic existence was not sufficient to block out the resounding absence.

And honestly, being away from family and close friends at the moment isn’t ideal.

We are making conscious effort to get back to the time when daily contentment was a norm.

“Bby, you want to eat nasi campur Bengali style for lunch?” I asked Azri on his off day, knowing that eating something different would excite us. He agreed and soon enough, we found ourselves in a uniquely decorated restaurant, Saptapadi.

Clockwise: My photo didn’t do justice to the thali so here’s a photo from their menu, crispy beguni and ice lemon tea, and the restaurant’s interior which pays tribute to the 1961 film, Saptapadi

We spent some time choosing what to eat. With the helpful explanation from the soft-spoken waiter (who had to repeat everything twice because Azri somehow couldn’t hear properly; Tak tau nak kesiankan sape lebih), we picked beguni (fried eggplant), karai kima mangsho (mutton dish) and the Special Non-Veg Thali (platter). We were pleasantly surprised by how good the dishes taste, and we would probably come back again for more 🙂

Later that night, Azri decided that we should splurge on “Dunkirk”. We purchased ourselves the most expensive tickets in the cinema, 500 rupees each (approximately S$10.60), and bought an ice cream, two cappuccino, two large Coke and a super large caramel popcorn for a total of 810 rupees (about S$17.20). PBG, I know.

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Look at my PBG face and Azri’s pleased face as we curled up on our seat

The seat we got was awesome! It was very much alike to Golden Village’s Gold Class recline seats. One difference was instead of two single seats, it was a couple seat, which actually made it all better 😀 And the yummy food was served to us at our seat, so it was similar to the Gold Class treatment but way cheaper. It was worth every rupee spent to watch the absolutely intense war movie…

The Friday felt somewhat normal but it wasn’t really. That said, it was still an improvement from what happened on Azri’s previous off day when we were not okay with everything.

I recently came across Haruki Murukami’s quote, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” I suppose this is something everyone who just lost a loved one needs to remember, including myself.

Questions go unanswered

A mother passed away on 15 July due to unforgiving illnesses.

10 days later, another mother wants to commit suicide.

I have been so confused and beyond angry about these deaths for some time now, and this is largely the reason for my long absence from my blog. I promise that once my nerves are more settled, my weekly updates will be up again.