Despite being a Bengalee who have no dearth of festivals throughout the year, spending the Christmas and New Year with folks back home had always been my favourite celebration. I remember well how the whole family used to plan for Christmas almost over a week. The smell of varieties of cakes and exotic food would fill the air from the morning. Sweets and curd were additional delicacies. Though the youngsters in the family would be absorbed in studies throughout the year Christmas used to be an exception and we used to take the liberty of loitering around the house and sniffing and stealing food from the kitchen while mom would be busy preparing delicious dishes. In general mid-winter used to be the time when we would go to the roof with ample number of oranges and spend the afternoons under the warmth of the sun, studying or reading the newspaper or storybooks. Time seemed to be the most easy going in winter, perhaps due to the shorter day. Early mornings and nights had always been very cold in our suburban native and that used to restrain our activities a lot. There would be a lot of variety in food during winter because of the diverse vegetables that are available during the season. Many a time we would visit Kolkata which would be an excursion for us. I remember well visiting the Alipore Zoo and the aquarium across it during a winter. We would eagerly wait for late winter to visit the Kolkata Book Fair where we used to buy a lot of new books for everyone in the family. I always liked going with dad who was a great foodie and I could enjoy fish preparations at the Benfish stall and have lots of ice-creams (which was seldom the case with mom). The only time I remember mom and dad going together to the book fair was due to the fight they had over the time dad spends at each book stall searching for his academic books. Well, we kids were always ready to pay the price for ice-creams and new books!
I remember one such time returning with dad from the book fair when we met a young Anglo-Indian lady and her mom on the train. The journey was a long one and we were chatting casually. I believe that was the time I had my first awareness of what beauty might be and I still remember the face of the lady vaguely despite being very young at that time. It doesn’t seem too unusual to me though given that my family is a totally literature oriented family and literary romanticism was something we got introduced to at a very early age because of the amount of world literature we used to enjoy.
Anyway, leaving aside the nostalgia, it’s after many years I will be enjoying the Christmas and New Year with the whole family once again – a rare opportunity because of my busy schedule and professional responsibilities throughout the year. Looking forward to 25th Dec when I’ll be home early in the morning. I’m sure it’s going to be a great time and a memorable vacation! My younger sister and I have decided to leave our gazettes behind this time ;).