Golden Memories

Diary from Calcutta

Memories are extremely precious, and in my case, extremely haunting.

When I feel alone, very old memories take me back to those sunlit, golden days back in Calcutta. I have written a lot about it, both in English and Bengali. And I am going to write a lot more.

Memories are lovely, and memories are friends. What’s more: they are therapeutic.

Try this immigrant life in America. You’ll know.
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Here’s a picture of my little notebook I carried with me all the time when I was in my early twenties in Calcutta. We didn’t have means to buy new notebooks. This one was one from 1970, which I was using in 1980.

In fact, it is still with me. (But the bed sheet in the picture — the blue one I used all the time in that little half-room in our North Calcutta home — well, it was a part of my life.)

This page in Bengali is a description of a classical all-night music program I attended in one of the public auditoriums — if anybody remembers where it was, let me know.
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November 22, 1980. — The program started at 9 P.M. and went all the way through 6.30 A.M. the next morning.

Artists who performed:

1. Dinanath Mishra (vocal). sang Raga Jog, and a Bhairavi thumri

2. Buddhadev Dasgupta, accompanied on tabla by Swapan Chowdhury — played sarod. Raga Bagesree, and a Pilu thumri.

3. A dance recital by Mira Chatterjee — I have completely forgotten about it. Not a trace of memory on this.

4. Sunanda Patnaik (vocal) — Raga Bilaskhani Todi, and a famous Bhajan in Bhairon (Jagannath Swami…).

5. Sohan Lal Sharma on harmonium and Tarun Bhattacharya on santoor — Duet — Raga Hansadhwani.

6. End of the program soiree — Sitar by Manilal Nag, accompanied on table by Maha Purush Mishra. Raga Ahir Bhairon.
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I could write a hundred pages on this memory. But I am savoring it tonight. I will sleep with this tonight.

 

Immigrant in America,

Partha Banerjee

Long Island, New York

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My Father Passed Away

Bapi

Back in New York. Hurt, sad, and reflecting on the experience I brought back.

It was a very different and difficult trip to Kolkata this time. Monsoon in Bengal, and the pollution-free, lush, green, wet trees and fragrant flowers calmed me down a little. It was not easy to realize my father would not wait for me anymore, with his loving, welcoming smile. He would not sit in the balcony chair looking down, when I’d return to USA.

He passed away on August 6. Yes, he was old. Very old. He was 93. But does it matter?

On August 16, I performed the Shraddha ritual for my departed father. Through this ritual, the deceased (Preta) was admitted into Pitri Loka, or the assembly of forefathers. He united with those men before me — ancestors who made me possible. I would also want to believe he reunited with my mother, who waited for him in heaven for many, many years.

Mahanirvan Math

The last hour on August 6, when we brought my father’s mortal remains from the hospital back home, and sang Tagore songs together. Very happy we could pay him respect one last time this way, with songs he loved so much. I hope people noticed this way to pay homage to him.

August 6 2

August 6, 2017, 7.40 A.M., Kolkata, India. — My father passed away. He left his uncompromising character, and a total renunciation of selfish pleasures. He lived for his ideology, and he lived for his patriotism. I am fatherless today, but I shall live his uprightness, his inimitable courage and determination. Regardless of politics, he will always be a lightning rod for me.

Empty bed

Salute to this man.

Sincerely Yours,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Pictures From My India Trip

Dear Friends and HumanityCollege.org supporters and sympathizers:

Happy New Year (in February!).

🙂

I just came back from a trip to India, and brought some fascinating pictures back with me. I’m sharing them with you.

India is a beautiful country, and my city Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) is a fascinating city. It’s progressive, it’s vibrant, it’s warm, it’s inclusive and secular, and its’ friendly.

On this trip, we had a gathering of family members and friends to celebrate our daughter’s wedding. About two hundred people came to the reception held on January 21. Our daughter and son in-law also brought a few of their American and Indian-American friends along with them. They loved it too.

“Kolkata changed my perception of India,” one of them said later.

Enjoy the photos. Any questions or comments, please write.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York
ashirvad-1
The blessings of Ashirvad ceremony happened here in Brooklyn, New York. Here, the Hindu priest is performing the ritual with the father of the bride.

partha-in-kolkata-1
I am standing on the sidewalk shopping complex at Kolkata’s popular Gariahat area. Thanks to Indian prime minister Modi’s scandalous demonetization, the bustling market is barren. Small businessmen and businesswomen are suffering badly.

north-kolkata-1
Our old, mezzanine apartment in North Kolkata. This is where I grew up. A very precious, scared place for me and my family. I am glad we still have this place with us.

father-with-kids
My father, 93, loved the company of our daughter’s friends visiting Kolkata from USA. He is fluent in English. Therefore, conversation was not a problem. You just have to speak loud…a lot loud 🙂

old-kolkata-house
Our old, North Kolkata home. We lived for twenty-five years on the mezzanine floor, before I came to USA as a foreign graduate student. This place is haunting for me, with memories.

bengali-indian-food
And finally, who could resist the temptation of Bengali and Indian food? All the guests were amazed. They all want to go back 🙂