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Part Two : Tales of India: Purulia Days

Posted Jan 15 2012 10:00am
Thank you so much for all the lovely comments on my previous post . I was so glad to read them

In Purulia I was too lazy to collect pictures in one day. So I will try and paint a picture of Purulia from the odds and ends of my entire 10 days there

So here is the next instalment - a post on Purulia.

Purulia is a truly  small town.

When I say that - I  mean really really small town !

Everybody knows everybody

For instance, one day, DH and I are off to visit my aunt.

Lost, I stop at a  jeweler shop and I ask simply "Where is my aunt's house?" ( without even giving the name of my aunt or even introducing myself ).

Nonplussed the jeweler gives me accurate directions !

The pace of life is really slow (which is what I like )

Everyday we begin the day with drinking tea in the sun

We lazily watch kite fights (people  fly a kite but they  are also trying the cut the thread of the other person who is flying a kite and great kite battles take place in the sky. All the people sunbathing on the rooftops are avidly watching this from a distance )

I and my sister are really close and only in this once-in-2-years vacation do we get to hang out ( for she is super busy too being a working mum with 2 kids )

My mum and dad are kind of community leaders there

For instance in their neighborhood , every house has a well which is usually the main water source

Here is our backyard well that the maid is pulling water for washing the outside

There is a neighborhood tap which gets "soft water " from the govt .

This tap has been placed right outside my mum and dad's house - as they are deeply trusted to not take over
( you should gasp at this point as this is respect indeed  )

My mum is also always settling disputes

One afternoon,a cacophony seems to have erupted outside .

When I look outside I see that  my mum's maids extended family come to get my mother to settle a BIGFIGHT

The dispute is about respect - The daughters of the house have moved back in with their mum and they are being mean to their SIL

I surreptitiously take a photo - shared for your pleasure here .

My mum resolves the dispute by ordering them to stop talking to each other. This is a very novel yet effective way to resolve a dispute

My Dad is the kindest of all and he has as always acquired another mass of pets

The pigeons circle him when he comes out and the dogs ( which he tells me, only like to eat meat ) are always waiting outside with looks of vacuous adoration for him

The skies are blue and its very pleasant ( almost 70 degrees everyday )

But Purulia dwellers are always cold

My parents adore DH - and also son in laws are always given special status !.

My mum makes fish for him everyday. Unlike the west, the main meal of the day is lunch

A note on Purulia would be incomplete without mentioning how direct people are!

One of my cousins is trying to conceive and all the aunts and uncles discuss things like "cycles" and "dates of possible conception"  without a thought  and in front of the couple in question ( who are also participating in the discussion )

Though if it were me, I think I would die of mortification.

Its like this with everything .

One day we are at a restaurant and someone who has been discussing their problem with being constipated .
In the middle of the meal they announce that they are "feeling the force".
Everyone respectfully makes way so she can go to the bathroom !

And the rest of the meal everyone talks about when they had similar experiences and whether the food in Gopal restaurant has any special qualities that enables the force

Autism awareness in Purulia

Nobody knows anyone with autism( my dad is almost definitely an aspie- a very high functioning one  and has a special understanding of R because of it.   ) 

But despite this lack of awareness they treat R with so much love and tenderness

My sister and nephew and niece are doting towards him

It seems he is perpetually hugged

And adored

He loves his rickshaw rides as always ( here he is with my sister )
What is different this time is that R is connecting with everyone

He has this game with my sister where he pretends as though he is going to pick her nose

She gasps in mock horror !

And gives him a mock scolding which makes him pass out laughing and squealing "no picking maashi's( aunt's) nose"

My niece and nephew play a simple game they have called "aaaaah ... wheee".

This simply involves them yelling a battle cry ( aaaaah ) and descending on him with a tight hug( wheeee) .

My mum tells him that he must stop saying "eeee.. eee"

I explain to her that this may damage his self esteem- to which my mum replies that "just explain to him that it makes him look different"

 But R thinks its a big joke and specifically does a lot of "eeeeee" in front of her so she will giggle and say "no ee ee" and this provides him with much amusement

R's sweetness wins everyone over

One day my dad and mum tell me in all seriousness that they wish every child was like R :-) ( and they mean it )

Once when I am expressing worry about R's future my mom says nonchalantly "he can eat, go to the bathroom , entertain himself, has good manners . what else do you need?"

Only once do I hear something disparaging about R - we are out at dinner - and one of my old aunts ask if R will always be like this

When I related this incident to my mum., she replies that that aunt is " like a cracked drum .. no one knows what sounds will come out of her next "


Do you find shopping lists very revealing ?

I do!

I feel if I only read your shopping list ( with some detail of why you wanted a thing ) I would know all about you.

I found a shopping list in my phone which is written by my sister and I put it here as it will show you our priorities

Sweets are mentioned twice ( which tells you how important they are )

Once for our house and another time when we are visiting our aunt ( champa mamima - which autocorrect has turned to Champagne Mamma ). Its customary to take sweets with you when you go to visit someones house

The Clothes pegs are because we hang clothes in the sun to dry ( there are no dryers in India )

The "lower" is a warm pants to wear under jeans - for my nephew ( kukku) to wear - even though it reaches 70 degrees each day- the minimum temperatures of 47 are perceived to be arctic like.  All the kids wear plenty of warm clothes

( when my sister and I go and look at the available assortment we are so amused that some manufacturer without really understanding  the cultural connotation has purloined the "playboy" logo -complete with bunny- for underpants for small children . I am guessing he means" boys that play" )

Sooji is a delicious  cereal my sister made( kind of like the English porridge - only a million times better)
And I think the last line my sister is trying to remind herself that there are more people to plan and cook for
There is one small market in Purulia which we go to all the time as this the main entertainment ( apart from gossiping )

There are two main shops here .

One is called "Big Mirror"- the other is called "Small mirror"

The first day DH and I go to "Small mirror"- apparently this is a big social gaffe as - our family patronises "Big Mirror"

Shopping in Purulia is a lot of fun.

Even in a small town like this , the women are conscientious enough that there is an entire lane devoted to clothes simply called "Clothes Lane"

While all saris look alike to westerners. each region in India has its own craft of sari.

For example Bengal ( where Purulia is ) has atleast 6 main subtypes of sari crafts

One of the famous subtype is "Taant"- paper thin saris made in hand loom and having bright borders .

My sister has requests from all her colleagues that she must get saris for them . Here are the shelves in the sari shop - tell me have you seen more vibrant colors

Its the same with sweets ( and Bengalis love sweets ) . The distinct thing about the candy here is that they use palm jaggery instead of sugar ( which tastes like heaven)

Cows wander freely in the markets  - a point of great joy for R

R has this curious quality of being able to identify when someone is feeling off.

He has always had this and will stick to the people  who are not well.

Everyday  that my mum is not well ( and she has a heart problem - a source of great stress to all of us ) R is completely by her side all the time snuggling with her and a great comfort

The child's sweetness moves me to tears sometimes .

There is a lot of goodness in him 

I think of all the evaluations which show how behind he is in so many things

But with a little distance and perspective - I sometimes also think of the many  things he is so much ahead in 

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