Off the shores 22
Closing in our Departure Part II
Uncertain Next like Life
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
With just two weekends more in our hands, we had something unusual to enjoy the one when it was our wedding anniversary. Initially I was planning to spend it with our Birgunj family here at Maryland that would give me opportunity to thank them as well since it was with them our marriage was solemnized. Nevi-Bipin Jwain Saheb with Vidit also had planned to visit with Ome Dai and Bhauju but they would be here Saturday evening for the last weekend for us here. Weather forecast predicted heavy snowfall/blizzard for the entire east coast that not only given us the rare opportunity to see and enjoy the snow at its best but happy confined to home together with various preparations right from hot momos, pakodas, aloo/sabji parathas, kima-curry by Ranjana to banana-almond bread/cake by Rachna, who otherwise had a mind to go for dinner in some Vietnamese restaurant famous for their soup-filled momos. Momos these days are not like those days when we used to enjoy that hot mouth burning juicy momos (pork) back home Sikkim or buff momocha in Nepal. Vimal brought Happy Anniversary cake from Wegmann’s as there was no possibility of getting one made to order but we had one to celebrate this rare occasion in the US. Bikash Bhai wrote complimenting “You both are GREAT and wonderful example of love, relation and family. Happy Anniversary! We missed a big chance to meet you one more time last week. We wish we could cash that moment. Hope we will have many more opportunities to meet you in your next visit. You must have enjoyed today’s snow and blizzard. It is good that you could see such a snow/blizzard before you leave. Hope the weather will be fine at the time of your departure. Happy Anniversary once again…” I thanked him profusely mentioning “it is love from you all family members that makes us happy together. It was indeed our luck to enjoy the snow/blizzard and hope everything gets back to normal soon. It was nice enjoying festivals here with you all and hope more such opportunity comes again and again.”
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Vimal was back from Dallas Thursday night and we were there at Philadelphia Airport to receive him. More than us he was curious to know about how we enjoyed and whether we could do some shopping. Yes we had done and also returned some stuff we did not like or found cheaper one for the same product at some other store and one bought online. It is always advantageous to look around in stores that is known for selling thing at lower price but branded to be cheap. Their motto carried on the carry-bag is ‘more for less’ and we know there is no harm if it so. True too and twice we visited I had every time something there for the same brand and product. I could not believe it could be so as it matter one-fourth less the price we got online, where they offer at best price being direct from the manufacturers. Rachna tried to weigh both the stuff out and declared it to be the same even the colour matched perfect with tag and inner linings. There is no scope for fake products here as I read in the news-weekly here that some 5000 pieces of jacket was seized from a person coming from some Asian country with a popular brand of winter garment. Ranjana, otherwise also did not like getting that brand which was popular there, more due to duplicate ones. During his last visit to Gangtok Vimal was happy in getting such a jacket at a very low price but soon to realize that it was a spurious one. He did what one could do best for such products, returned to the seller who was little surprised to get back what he had sold.
Vimal came home quite impressed by the school Shubi went. He had gone to drop her and what surprised him was the little kids in standard I or II opening the door of the car to wish good morning to the guardian accompanying and to the student getting out. Quite a number of students of the same age group of 6-7 were seen doing this service voluntarily under the supervision of a teacher nearby. This has been incorporated as part of their education forming one of the criteria to adjudge best student of the class. Such a practice not only made students going regular to school but also early riser to get there and join her friends at the school gate to offer voluntary service. Another thing Vimal shared with us about the Leadership course in the school that converted every student conscious future adult citizen concerned about the welfare of the society while it was helping him/her in improving the personality to face the world as he/she grew up to pass out of the school thus groomed. For home work each student was given a book to read and write a few lines about it. The book Shubi brought, as it ought to be, was small in simple language and about Martin Luther King Jr. as it was holiday in his memory that Monday.
Rachna too had something interesting to tell him of his Bhanja Chakloo/Rinay mother Bindiya mentioned about. Dwanka Pde from Shillong Rachna’s close friend since her Mahatma Karve Cummin’s College of Engineering for Women, Pune days that saw both nearly losing life when Rachna went to save her fallen in bathroom floor after the shock from electric immersion rod in the room they shared there and recently here she nearly got drowned in a swimming pool last summer, was getting married. This good news when given Chakloo was awestruck sad to note and asked his mother not to tell this to his Mami Rachna or Dwanka. This little 6-year old boy good to show us kung-fu art learnt in his school, exceptionally smart grew fond of her even as two-year old kid. Rachna tells us about they all asking him once to recite the nursery rhyme but quite adamant to please them all. There was suddenly a skype call from Dwanka and just a look at her he went happy singing out the rhyme! Mahuwa from Siliguri is other College-friend to be bride-maids for her March wedding, we would be missing. Prisha is just another child 2 years old and when asked she agrees to be an American. What about your father Tejas, is he an American? No, he is an Indian and your mother Urvi? American. Born in USA, this kid knows well what difference it makes to her. Chakloo too has this superiority complex over his friend Arav or others fair skinned all from similar background. In company of such bright kids, toddler Riha too has grown quite smart for her age of 1plus within these few months we came to know them all here!
Deepadi enjoyed watching snowfall from the comforts of her room like we did see the Blizzard 2016 pass by without causing much damage in the locality except huge heaps of snow all around. Bipin Jwain Saheb found it to be the heaviest ever seen in all past 26 years of his stay here. Sunday was bright and sunny to dig out the snow helping keep the driveway connected to the road, walkway cleared for school-going kids and mailbox approachable as USPS normally delivers from the vehicle direct as driver do not have to get down. Achyut was lucky to get the Spanish help to clear his driveway by late evening. We had gone out on sunny Monday afternoon to the nearby Park and enjoyed the snow beautiful here, there, everywhere as far as our eyes could reach. Workers were seen busy clearing the inner roads and walkways as the main road was cleared fast Saturday evening itself in spite of the snow/blizzard throughout night and morning, neighbours seen clearing since day break with children playing in the snow. We too had fair share in both play and work with photographs taken to share the joy in reciprocation with friends and relatives on the Facebook.
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Coming back, it was beyond anyone’s imagination of visiting this place so soon again when you are not settled down well back home after spending months together at a stretch here. It was just a figment of my wild imagination, a wishful thinking to be made known of such a fanciful idea to express how much I would love to be back here again amidst the people who showered me so much of their love and affection while organizations like NOA and NPPA invited me to be with them and celebrate festivals so wonderfully. This visit might allow me to be with friends who wanted us to be with them for some Sunday morning prayer in their temple or for a get together in the evening and have some time taken out for informal chatting on matters of common interest for the larger benefit of our society. The WNO Convention was right thing to do with them here. Mere thanks and writing a few lines here and there would not be enough to return their graciousness. This made me too wonder, if we could really make it so. Ranjana did not wish to say anything unless we reach home and find things out there for ourselves first. All the while away, back home everything left to Raman with newlywed Sarvada to take care. They too had to leave home often taking time out off to Kolkata for replenishing the stock with new arrivals for Rachna Books, presently in New Delhi for the World Book Fair and thereafter to the Jaipur Literary Festival. Bookman, the name Raman assumed for himself after the Kitabwallah fondly given to me by Keshab Mama, would be this weekend on a panel sharing his experiences and ideas on most front-fronting books at Jaipur Bookmark with some of the most experienced people in the industry from the world over. Bookman is the only indie bookstore owner to be invited to this big show – said to be the largest on the earth. We had long been away from home to realize how fast it went off and now in a hurry to be back there. To console ourselves I was just writing this piece to share with my readers. And mind it, we could be here for the second time after a long gap of five years – not an easy task travelling days and nights together to reach the other part of the world jetlagged! Uncertain next like Life!!
This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life while in the US. Some names, quotes, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org