"Himachal Pradesh ki rajdhani Simla hai" repeated two dozen kids after their boisterous Hindi teacher. It was Friday evening, the makeshift Hindi school was in full swing in our basement. That meant I was neither allowed access to the theater room (it had been turned into a class room) nor the bar (which had been turned into a service station for harmless water and healthy snacks for the children). It didn't seem to matter that the now famous Hindi teacher of South Jersey happened to be of Bengali origin. Spouses can be more dangerous than you think.
The cooker whistled softly in the kitchen. The important thing about cooking mutton is that it has to turn out soft and tender, nicely blended with the large potatoes and tasting just right in terms of salt, spices and chilli. I was on to my third glass of wine as I tasted the semi-cooked mutton, looking outside the sun room at the setting sun and the happily chirping birds. The birds were really loud and finally sounded happy today. I think they were saying to each other: dude it's a Friday and spring is finally here!
The chanting about Simla (or Shimla) being the capital of Himachal shook me out of my dusk-dream. I never knew that Simla was the summer capital of British India, almost one hundred and fifty years ago. Nor did I know that it first became the capital of Punjab after independence, and was only later named the capital of Himachal after the reorganization of the districts of the state in 1972. Little did I know, that the name Simla was derived from the goddess Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu
As a Bengali kid I grew up listening to "Shyama-sangeet", the devotional songs dedicated to the goddess Kali. Kali is the goddess of Time and Change. Hindu mythology has it that she is the supreme annihilator of evil forces. The name Kali means black, time, or death. Kali is Lord Shiva's consort, and is often seen standing on his body. Shiva laid in the path of Kali, whose foot on Shiva subdues her anger. Shiva is called Kala, the eternal time. In summary, dude finish your drink, your time has come.
I can't help but point out to my dear Punjabi friends that once upon a time we did have Bengali stud heroes, who were even studder than thorough-bred Punjabi heroes. Did you know that Dharmendra was keen to play the lead role in "Love in Simla" but the director R K Nayyar preferred Joy Mukherjee? By the way this was also the movie where Sadhana mader her Hindi movie lead debut and became a star. It was a hit at the box office.
The cooker whistled again. Hmmmm. This smelt good. I was turning into a chef after all! And thanks to the internet.
Tomorrow it is forecasted to be 68 degrees. Same as Simla weather. Good time to start swinging those clubs again. It is reported that Obama received a $7,750 golf bag as a gift from one of the foreign dignitaries (amongst the $250k of gifts) that are entitled as "circumstances justifying acceptance". Basically it means, non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor. Well, the Obamas won't be keeping the stunning blue mask sculpture worth $53,000, a gift from Ali Bongo Ondimba, president of the Gabonese Republic. It shall be going to the national archives. We can all sigh a big gabonese sigh of relief.