Narain the Nulia at Mayfair . He's a poppet , calls both the girls Mamun and me , Ma. He always has a gift for both the girls but is known to favour Tani more . Also a hard taskmaster who takes you much deeper into the sea for a good swim , than most other nulias .Much preferred to the mentally deficient Ramu who is known to let go and dive after a posse of parshey fish under water .
Fruits de la mer - a catch of shiny sparkling fish - parshey , prawns , bata all bought and made up into chorchori , jhaal and malai curry .
This was the Dragon prince which clambered out of the foliage in the verandah and posed most obligingly for me .
In the summer of 2006 we took our annual trip to Puri . Puri has become an annual habit with us . On the short drive from the station to the hotel we watch out for changes and there are many this year .. new hotels have sprung up , white and gleaming and hard on the eyes in the blinding sunshine , having taken the place of mellow ochre and mossy walled old bungalows with romantic old world names like "Sea View " and "Sundance" - but whimsical echoes of the thirties, forties or even older ..
The Chandan Hajury Hospital for children , once a huge haunted house , now has a granite facade ..no ghosts of little children could stay in such sanitary surroundings because there wouldnt be any nooks and crannies .
However some things that we look for each year that still remain the same :-
- Panda babu's shop
- Sonaar Gouranga -which we love because it is ghostly, mysterious , decrepit , seedy around the edges and even non practising Hindus feel quite touched by religion. The door to the samadhi will break down by next year and we shall be able to see the place at last .
- Z's Hotel where backpackers stay and which the Sheikh wants to buy because he likes the brown bordered wooden windows with small white curtains fluttering in the breeze. and the antiquated frosted glass lamp sconces .
- At Z's hotel,a glimpse of a ceiling fan circling lazily and a young woman , honey blonde hair swept up , hunched up over a round black table on a sea facing vernadah , furiously scribbling away. There is a small green garden awash with tiny magenta and white flowers and a lot of hens which they chop up for dinner .
- The same old arts and crafts shops on Grand Road that sell the same old silver hoops that we buy each year
- The wide sweep of road that goes downwards and to the right at the corner of the Netaji statue . A little way off and there comes Lee Garden where the Oriya speaking Chnese owner sells very sweet Chop Suey
- Next door to it is the Open Air restaurant that used to be only eco friendly at one time, but is now, additionally "@pocket friendly "also - which perhaps explains the hordes of students from the Patharpuri Hostel who congregate around it ashram that sits happily next to the canal wh
- The Satsang Ashram which sits hppily next to the drainage canal which snakes past the BNR and cuts a green slimy swathe down the beach leaving a palpable sulphurous stink in its wake
- The Buddhha Mandir. The landlord lives in the ground floor. The rooms on both sides of the courtyard house small rooms for the artisans of the sculpture workshop which is also housed on the premises . There are huge sculptures of Buddhas in stone , grimacing asuras , curvy ladies in next to nothing examining the soles of their feet in impossibe stances , innumerable Hampi bulls and a profusion of ferns , crotons and green palms . We like sitting with our backs to the wall and our feet towards the street and watch life go by . Often we are the only ones here but on a bad hair day we have a few Bangla tourists for company all the way from Bata More or Birati or wherever .
- The beach in front of the Mayfair Hotel , in the morning and the evening
- The sizzlers and honey smothered pancakes
- The lights of the fishing craft at dusk
- The roar of the waves
- The peace and the majesty of the limitless , boundless skies and water ..
- The sea , sand and sun and the tans we come back with .....
The girls say its like going to Santiniketan. Like Coming Home .Everyone greets us and asks how the year was . They all exclaim about how big the girls have grown . They all say how nice it is to see us once again . We like it very much .
Random pictures seen at Puri this year ...
- 6 individuals of a particular community holding hands , with the first and last of the line holding on to nulias , floating six abreast on the waves near Swargadwar . Cost cutting , surely .
- A couple , again Bata More or Birati , the new bride(shakha , pola et al ) in her undies pretending to be in a bikini and the husband in his Y fronts posing for the photographer , near the erstwhile Nilachal Ashok . Not one for the family album.Needless to say Shimu, the photographer was having a whale of a time arranging poses .
- The collector and his cohorts eating what hotels call vegetable sandwiches which makes me think of alu kumro tucked between 2 slices of bread, on the beach with pots of the hotel's best tea; gratis of course.
- 2 fat boys sliding off a groaning camel on to the wet sand .
But alas .... for the eatery called Mickey's (?) Bar , which once had a huge Mickey Mouse cartoon drawn on the wall and where you could get red mullet and snapper and shark steak ...and also small doses of the powder that makes for happiness, is now a "Marwari basa "serving strict vegetarian food ...but comfort comes in the fo.rm of the Honey Bee cafe which serves delicious pizza ,cappucino and bread among other edibles.....