Monday, July 2, 2012

Forever on a Sunday


Subho's Jejune Diet is one of the most avidly read blogs on Indiblogger. It's a must read for all of you looking for gyan on parenting, photography, investment, yoga... The man is a storehouse of knowledge! Once in a blue moon, he deigns to write a hard-hitting satire or a poignant story and leaves mere mortals like me whining for more. Presenting Subhorup's musings exclusively for A-Musing....

Courtesy - Google images


There is something special about Sundays. Rather than being the proverbial day of rest for me, Sunday has been the day to get the more important things done. The quiet coolness of the morning is perfectly balanced by the bite of a hot cup of tea as I sit after watering my tiny balcony garden and review my week, refresh my task list, and rejoice in the mysticism of domesticity.

A good number of my friends have a very different kind of Sunday. They work incredible hours during the week. When I call them at what I consider start of business, they have already packed in some power yoga, a power walk, a power breakfast, and a couple of business meetings. This frenzy is repeated in the evening, and in the case of people working with partners across the globe, into the night. Come Friday, they let their hair down, and then some more the next evening. As a result, they need much of their Sunday to recover from all of this letting down of hair. The maid is asked to come late, and the day begins as close to lunch time as possible. Before one knows it, the weekend is over, and it is back to the grind. I know this because I have lived this life for a good number of years too.

A couple of years back, I suddenly realized that I had sacrificed all my waking hours at the altar of building corporate profit. I had not only lost control over what I could do with my life and my time during the week, but also lost out on the magic of Sundays. I made a decision, not an easy one, to reclaim my life and to live deliberately, doing what was important in my scheme of things. It has not been an easy journey, but one that has been immensely rewarding. One of the greatest rewards has been the re-discovery of Sundays. From an outsider’s perspective, this might seem strange, as I don’t do anything that is conventionally understood as work all week, so Sundays should theoretically be no different.

The nature of my relationship with Sundays has morphed with time and as I have grown (or degenerated, some will say) as a person. Except for the aforementioned period when my Sundays were like punctuation in a Joycean rant, they have, however, been singularly rewarding all through my time on this planet.

These days, in the place of shaking sleep out by badgering me, the missus rises and shines by herself on Sundays and gets to finishing with the chores so that she is free by the time the great Indian guilt trip starts. This is followed by ninety minutes of peace as the phone doesn’t ring, the doorbell stays quiet, and even Twitter and Facebook go into a lull. The social media freeze continues well into Monday morning, with a million keystrokes churning out cathartic posts reiterating what Aamir Khan chooses to enlighten the nation on.

Sundays have been this distinctive right from my childhood. In the missionary boarding school that I went to, this was the only day of the week when you could clap and sing about how we were all going to hell in the wonderful acoustics of the chapel. At home during the vacations, it was usually luchi and alur-dom for breakfast followed by my parents friends dropping in for tea and conversation that stretched into lunch, with more conversation while sitting at the table with unwashed hands, till mom reminded everyone that she was making tea.

All good Bengali boys and girls grow up learning to sing Rabindra sangeet, and I was no exception. Sunday morning meant I would tuck my subsidized Bongolipi notebook under my arm, mom making sure my hair was oiled and combed, and head off to Subidh kaka’s house.

Every third Bengali is either a Tagore or claims to have narrowly missed being one. Subidh kaka was a Tagore too, and had a deep and resonating voice over which he had superb control. But in addition to that, he had large round eyes that kept rolling back into the top of his head as he immersed himself in the nuances of the words and music of Rabindranath. It would be very funny, and Bubai and Laltu and I would struggle to stifle our giggles. When it came to our turn to sing, our mirth would translate to strange quivers and trills that the songwriter had never imagined, followed by a total breakdown and Subidh kaka would be very surprised. Halfway through every lesson he would deliver a stern warning that if we giggled and rolled this way, he would stop teaching us. And that would have us rolling and giggling all over again. He would roll his eyes back again in exasperation and seek solace in music.

Once I had reached an age where I could hold my breath and refuse to go for these classes, it was time for the evergreen Bengali obsession, adda. As the epics unfolded on Doordarshan, our rootless khadi and denim glad band would gather at the local tea shop, and talk about everything under the sun. From Sarte to Jatin Chakraborty, nothing was deemed insignificant. And there was really no purpose greater than honing our logos-pathos-ethos abilities to these hysterical discussions. There were no set rules as to who would play gatekeeper and who would introduce a counterpoint just for the heck of it. The sessions ended with no conclusion, yet everyone went home to their Sunday lunch with a sense of having achieved something mysteriously significant.

As I left college behind and set out to support myself and create trouble on a larger scale, the concept of the day of rest emerged. Living in Bangalore bang on Brigade Road meant that Sunday mornings were the only time you could hear the birds call and the palm leaves rustle. Yes, there used to be birds calling and palm leaves rustling on Brigade Road in those days. All four of us who shared the apartment were fond of nature. We would wake up early on Sundays, make our way up to the sloping terrace, and enjoy nature.

Mrs. Kamath, our crazy and lovable old Mangalorean landlady, would smell nature wafting through the air and come out in the yard waving her walking stick and threaten to throw us out or report us to the police. At the high points of her tirade, she would lapse into Tulu some of which sounded like Bengali curse words to me. It was as much a routine for her as it was for us, since it would invariably be followed up almost immediately with a large platter of hot and delicate neer dosas that she would send up for us.

This culinary end to our morning nature study would be followed by classic rock and beer on the steps of Pecos and then a Malabari lunch at our favorite budget eatery, Kohinoor. At the start of the month, when all our wallets were loaded, Sunday mornings would find us at Koshy’s gorging on appams and mutton stew, a delicacy that was served only on Sunday mornings on first come first served basis. However, one had to wait till 11 to be able to order beer to wash it down with.

After settling down in Hyderabad, Sundays meant going book hunting in the used book market at Abids. Though you will find more of poorly printed pirated bestsellers here, one can still find classics and rare books if one invests the time and the effort of hunting through the piles of books that the seller stacks up at the corner of the stall rather than display them alongside chart-toppers. Another favorite Sunday activity of mine in Hyderabad is to walk through the flea market in the sidewalks leading up to Charminar. You can find everything from broken gramophones to second hand spectacles in these shops. A similar flea market springs up on Sundays at Erragadda. I have found some amazing music CDs and audio cassettes at these two places, but you will be well advised to carry a walkman and/or a discman to make sure that the disc or the tape plays satisfactorily.

I have never quite been able to convince my family and friends of the wisdom of getting out and doing things on a Sunday morning. At best, they tag along like fundamentalists at an all faith meeting. The streets are deserted, parking is in plenty, and public transport is comfortable. The stores are quiet, the billing queues non-existent, and the displays picture perfect. You can invariably walk up to the box office and be sure to get tickets for a Sunday morning show. Like the screening of counter culture classic in Metro cinema in Kolkata of my youth, a good part of serious Indian cinema finds a place in Sunday morning shows. In recent times, I have seen Leaving Home, perhaps the only documentary on an Indian fusion band and one that compares with the best in the genre globally, and Stanley ka Dabba, a brilliant piece of storytelling, on Sunday mornings.

The point of this extended discourse on my Sundays is simple. In the mad rush to have more and do more, we often fail to attend to our real purpose, to be all that we were meant to be. Our greed, our willful ignorance and our insecurities keep us from listening to our hearts and choosing the path that will bring the greatest good to the greatest number. There is no best time to see if you can listen to that calling but I have found that Sunday mornings tend to have that stillness that lets you hear it a little more clearly. God rested after six days of creation. In spite of all the evils that man perpetrates in his creation, I do not think he regrets what he has done, but he did give it a rest. I rest my case. May your Sundays be as meaningful as mine.



72 comments:

  1. what a lovely post. Enjoyed it thoroughly. It brought back memories of Sunday mornings when 'Chitrahar used be the highlight in our house. The author has a wonderful way of writing :)

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    1. Pop time on Sundays was another bright spot during my growing years. It was the only music television that one had access to in those days.

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  2. Very enjoyable post and reminded me of the great movie' Chariots of Fire' where the main protagonist refuses to run the race on Sabbath( equivalent of Sunday) for Jews! That is how the Sunday needs to be celebrated which you to agree after having chased your corporate dreams for six days year after year:)

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  3. I stumbled on Subho's blog via Indiblogger. And I am so glad I did.
    Like you, Sundays for me are for books and endless cups of coffee. Considering Delhi weather, it is the malls...Landmark, or the Reliance Time Out at Ambience Mall.

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    1. The endless cups are a big problem for me, since after the third or fourth, requests are usually met with "when do you want to have lunch today?"

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  4. Sunday for me is relative rest :). Relative because 5 days in a week of waking up at 6, I look forward to a couple of days of getting up by 7. Having a slightly more relaxed day, Sunday if for cooking special slow-cooked treats for the family. Of course, I have to keep the time for SMJ when sonny and me watch it with hubby peeping in off and on :) just like you have described.

    Oh and Subhorup, Bangalore roads are not a place to be out on weekends. Crazy traffic snarls will kill your spirit. So much so that I've pretty much stopped going out of my community on Sundays! Enjoyed this post of your memory down Sunday lane.

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    1. the three years that i spent in bangalore in the early nineties were magical. i worked on church street and lived on brigade road. our life was made hell by the masses that thronged brigade road all week long. we rarely used transport, and all our activities were built around off-peak hours and walking distances. in the two decades since, the city has changed, and walking is no longer the pleasure it used to be. the advent of malls and the declining state of the roads has made all commute impossible and all sidewalks inaccessible. i love to remember bangalore the way it used to be, but life goes on, and entropy spares nothing, perhaps not even memories.

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  5. "Sunday mornings tend to have that stillness that lets you hear it a little more clearly.." Agree 100% Purba.

    Sunday morning is the best part of the week. I love all the little touches of adda, morning shows, scenes of the flea markets etc you mentioned here...:)) For me, Sunday mornings are for a leisurely family chat over luchi-alur dum n cups and sups of tea...:D
    Lovely post...I admire it unreservedly!

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    1. Your effusive praise has been redirected to Subhorup, the author of this marvelous piece.

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  6. This reminded me of the movie 'Chariots of Fire' based on Olympian Sebastian Coe's life. He refused to run the race on Sabbath( equivalent of a Sunday)as a devout Jew!After your endless pursuit in the corporate rat race you finally realized the worth of a Sunday:)Very well written!!

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  7. Great post. You put the words to experiences only few people have privilege to experience.

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    1. ... and a lot of experience that no words can describe. your presence in my life is one of them, sandeep.

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  8. Lovely post.Totally agree that Sunday mornings are the best time, in Hyderabad to go around.

    But you have let the cat out of the bag.
    Now I am worried many are going to find the stores, parking lots, easy to visit, and clog the roads!

    Do you meet Vinod Ekbote on your Sunday Abids trips? Now the weather is cooler , I will visit that corner.

    Enjoy!

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    1. the sankranti weekend is another great time for long trips within and around the city, though most establishments are closed. thankfully, the city is prettier with the establishments closed. as a matter of fact, during the sankranti weekend, you actually get to see how pretty the city is, which is lost in the crowds and the traffic the rest of the time.

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  9. Sundays are a slow day for me at home...as is every other day of the week. Me, being a homemaker, I have loads of time at hand but, Sundays are the day for movies and eating out. Lovely post, enjoyed reading.

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    1. Spending time with the family is one of the best ways to put your sundays to use.

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  10. You know what, Subho, growing up in Kolkata, I can identify with a lot of what you have written:) Your post makes me very nostalgic. Our sundays have become so different--sometimes so isolating because the entire week we are with people and more people. As a child, sundays used to be the only when my family would sit together for food. We used to have a late lazy lunch and Mom used to cook her best foods that day. In evenings we used to watch a Hindi movie together. It used to be so sweet. Nowadays, I prefer not to answer workplace emails or phone calls. And I go on hurricane travels. I hop cities and towns on weekends and sometimes to the mountains. And sometimes I shut my door and go into deep silence with a book--no food, no tv, no computer, just my own breath and the wisdom of the book. That is definitely rejuvenating. Thanks for bringing my mindfulness back to how I use my Sundays. And Purba, thanks for bringing Subho here! What a delicious post!

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    1. I was so nostalgic when writing this post, Bhavana. Remembering the only western music request program on All India Radio, Musical Band Box and Amin Sayani's Bournvita Quiz contest - on radio - during the sunday special lunches that mom would make. Your weekends sound very rejuvenating too.

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  11. well well well, I guess that is a sunday well spent .. Thankfully until recetnly I alsways had my SAT-Sun free and hopefully after september they will be free again.

    I do what i am unable ot do during the week check up on my garden, once in a while go to pub, etc.. I still play hockey so that comes too (I say still as I am not young anymore and the poor knees are slowly saying no, to it all) ..

    Bikram's

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  12. stupid job has left sundays to a mere, '^%$#@%^*()(^%$# sunday gayi &^%$#@%*()' but some day i am going to make it the late bed- tea day, AMEN!

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  13. We all need to step back & access what we really want in life. Sunday's when well utilized give us that well needed & deserved time.

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  14. Subhorup,

    Last paragraph sums up very well. Do you remember an old or rather a very very old song Come Anyday But Not On Sunday, Sunday Is The Day Of My Rest. Instead of Rest I would say Sunday is the Day for Doing what I want to. Well told.

    Take care


    Purba,

    Thanks for a good link.

    Take care

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    1. That song was going around in my head as I wrote this, Jack, and the title is a spin on the song itself. Glad you liked the post.

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  15. well, i love Sunday simply bcoz i don't have to follow that virtual clock ticking into my mind and saying that its going to be late for office again today.....

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  16. I remember my Sundays when I was working with a leading bank. Working 15-16 hours a day for a week would put me in a sleep coma on Saturday night. I would wake up at noon and unwillingly make some lunch.

    I am a stay at home mother now and am able to enjoy my Sundays from a waking state. But since everyone is home, weekends are sometime busier. I have to make my cups of tea myself and make for others too :-P

    On a different note, I like your style of writing Subho. Sometimes, I just want to read what you have written, not focusing on the meaning, but just flowing with the music of your words. I think I will like what you say, even if I may not agree with it.

    Thanks for bringing me to A-musing. Purba, you rock!

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    1. our calendars show sunday as the first day of the week, but International Standards Organization - ISO - says the week starts on monday. getting away from the rat race often helps make sunday the reboot it was always meant to be.

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  17. Subho.. This is probably the most serene post I have ever read. I don't think I can fully express how good I felt after reading this post.

    From describing the beautiful metamorphosis to vividly crystallizing unforgettable memories of three great cities, you filled the reader with sublime bliss.

    And amidst all this, you brought out the real essence and beauty of a Sunday and how we miss out on one of God's precious gifts in this mad rush we are trapped into.

    "God rested after six days of creation." - I guess a sentence that will linger in my mind for a long time.

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    1. Raj, glad you liked it. Your comment was more lyrical than my post.

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  18. I remember the quiet stillness and the absence of crowds on Sunday mornings. I also remember those intellectual discussions that gave us would be intellectuals a lot of satisfaction. And I remember the Sunday papers and steaming cups of tea. As kids we used to go to Juhu beach with two or three other families. It only had limitless sand and the sea – no commercial eyesores. We were definitely in no rush then. You are right about slowing down to be in tune with ourselves every so often. Lovely post.

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    1. the discussion thread here has triggered so many wonderful memories. the sunday papers and the tea are among them. sundays offer us the chance to slow down and reflect in the most hectic of times.

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  19. Loved the post! Brought back several memories. Sunday mornings have always been extremes for me, either spent well with a walk/run in Cubbon Park followed by heaavy bfast, or its spent lazing around till 1pm. How different right ;-)
    Now off to Subhorup.blogspot!

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    1. being able to break free from the routine itself is a great way to step into mindfulness. glad you liked the post, ambika.

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  20. ...delicious...relaxing...laid back... rejuvenating... only Subhorup could write such a brilliant piece:) Thank you Subho, thank you Purba:)

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  21. Its really very true that Sundays have that stillness, when you could actually ponder upon a number of thoughts, decide logically and feel a inner peace inside you. Most probably it is the grinding of the whole week which make us feel that.
    Amazing post, I should say!

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  22. :-) What a treat, Purba! Thank you.

    I remember my lovely lazy Sunday mornings at Abids too, Subho!. I still have some of the "foreign" magazines I bought there!

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    1. the bulk of my mad magazine originals and rolling stone collection is from abids, along with some rarities like the mervyn peake and heath robinson collectibles.

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  23. What a heartwarming, magnificent piece! I loved the way you have described the grind that Sundays have seemed to become. Thanks to our dogs, out Sunday mornings are no different than our other days, except for the fact that hubby stays home instead of heading out. As a result, we get to pack so much more in way of relaxation. Mondays are still a grind, but not as much.

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    1. children and pets - pets are after all like children of the family - are reminders that certain aspects of life remain unchanged regardless of the day of the week. i remember how quickly my excitement over getting a pair of pups disappeared as i realized their need to be out and about with daybreak.

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  24. Loved it. Made me feel like its Sunday morning on a Tuesday night :)

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  25. A Brigade Rd where you could hear birds and the rustling of Palms? Where did that Brigade Road go? :) Have you seen the madness of that place now? If you haven't, don't even go there, it'll kill this beautiful memory.

    What a pleasure it was to read this piece. :) Here's wishing you a whole lot of happy and fruitful Sundays.

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    1. brigade road was crazy even two decades back, and it was impossible to be at peace all through the week, but sunday mornings saw the dust settle down. it was truly, truly special, something that only residents of brigade road will realize the worth of. this peace only lasted till lunchtime on sundays, after which brigade road dressed herself up as the glam doll she was born to be.

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  26. Interesting post :) I love sundays..Don't we all? After reading this post, I can't wait for sunday!

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  27. Ah - a good read, thanks to Subhorup and Purba. And this will lead me to some introspection about my Sundays :-).

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  28. Pre marriage I used to call Sundays as 'My Day'..that day after 6 days of tiresome work, was meant to wake up late, not listen to mom's requests to have breakfast..pamper myself with all the beauty tips of hair and skin..than going out on a date with my boyfriend(now my hubby)..but post marriage everything changed drastically..now there is no mother or no sister-in-law to take care of my breakfast and my lunch..no one is there to do my daily chores and to feed my hungry daughter and hubby..but now Sundays means to make the day special for my husband and daughter and love doing it..ur post for some time took me back to those old days..loved reading it..

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    1. growing up is all about moving from being taken care of to taking care of. and sundays are a time to share your caring with your loved ones in all the special ways that one can think of.

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  29. It was so interesting to know your journey through Sundays--different times,different choices--how we keep evolving.I have not been to Kolkatta but i plan to go soon-my daughter lives there.And i will make sure ido not miss luchi & alurdum AND mishti doi.

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    1. thanks, Indu. hope you have a wonderfully time with your daughter, and go slow on the sweets. they do things to you without your knowing.

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  30. Sundays always used to be a day of 'different' things in terms of food cooked, activities and times both during the before and after marriage phases. But these days with us being in semi-retired mode, it is almost the same, except as you have discovered, Sunday mornings are best for outings, a movie and shopping in peace. Loved the post, Subho and got first hand info on what Bengali youth did (do). Immensely informative :)

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    1. thanks, Zephyr. the tragedy is that bengali youth - at least in our times - don't do much, they just talk about what should be done. at the time when we were sitting and discussing deconstruction, my friends from other states were setting up roadside shops and teaching in slums.

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  31. Sunday is a day for getting ready for the week ahead. I normally enjoy Saturdays to go out spend with family or friends. I treat Saturday as the masti day. The masti actually starts on Friday nights with a movie n tv which runs past midnight to get up late on Saturday. Lovely post.

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    1. thanks, Gopinath. the trick is to get more bang for the buck from the masti. i have found that my idea of bang for the buck has changed over time.

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  32. Hi subhorup
    Reading that post was as refreshing as a Sunday well spent :) superb ! :)

    I love strolling through flea-markets too :)

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  33. Lovely post. Missing my childhood sundays:(

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    1. thanks, cloud nine. i can only entreat you to get them back whichever way you can.

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  34. Thank you Purba for introducing Subho.A subscription is already in place.Wonderful narration about lazy Sundays.Loved reading about Kolkata and a very Bengali childhood.
    First half of a typical Sunday is spent with news papers and 2-3 cups of chai ,generally lazying around but the next half is hectic in preparation of the week ahead.I never thought I would be able to pull myself out of hectic Saturdays but I tried and I have succeeded.Saturdays are fun filled ,doing anything I take fancy on ,followed by being a homebody on Sundays with family.

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    1. thanks, Sharmila, and thanks for the follow too. for a good part of my life, i worked a six-day week with my sundays coming on monday. i would save up all my sunday supplements and laze into the afternoon with cups of tea. so glad that you have begun beating your hectic demon back.

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  35. just finished reading your post . Although I am your mother and should not praise you publicly lest it goes to your head ,i want to say that it is a brilliant post .I always knew that you will be an author and my dream has come true . A great life is waiting for you.I am glad that you are no longer in the corporate life which squeezes you out like sugarcane juice . Do what your heart tells you to do and face the challenges of life joyfully emerging ever victorious each time . love u. how to send it to others ? you know my computer inabilities .

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    1. just when i thought it was safe to go back in the water... thanks a million, mom, for praising me in public and letting it go to my head. love you. with your blessings - and nagging - there is no way life can deny me what is due to me... copy the link in the address bar on top and stick it in an email ... that should work for sharing.

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  36. dear Subho
    As u know I cant even hold a mouse and not intend to,ma read out your post and all the 53 comments as well. It brought back nostalgic memories of our youth. I suggest that now you concentrate on writing a novel based on your adventure and experiences much like aaaaaaaaaaa'Thousand years of solitude" Believe that you can . I feel lucky to have you as my son . love
    Surajit

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    1. dad - talk about freudian slips - it is such an honor to have you read and comment on this post. if you can read writing on the internet, world peace is a stones throw away. and to have a writer like you think that i can come close to a hundred years - i think it is hundred and not thousand - is the greatest gift one can ever get. lucky me.

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  37. Subho, I feel honoured that you chose to write this profoundly beautiful piece for my blog.

    Hoping you write the book that your Mom is waiting for.

    "And I reclaimed my life after I unshackled myself from the rat race"

    But not everyone has the luxury to make that choice.

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    1. the honor is mine to have been hosted here, purba. and it was really nice to hear back from so many of your readers. truly rewarding.

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  38. for peoples like us ... i.e. those who are suffering from "time poverty" .. every Sunday feels like a treasure.

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    1. Being able to handle tasks better makes the treasure of Sundays even more precious. You might actually find my post on how to make more time useful to deal with time poverty.

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  39. A great post on a depressing day... strangely, Sunday is a day of mourning for me... more work ahead, more deadlines to meet, more things to do! :)

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    1. Step back, brother, reassess what is truly important, downshift and attend only to that which deserves your attention. Thanks for finding me here, CWTB.

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  40. What utterly delightful prose! And so descriptive - I could actually smell the mutton stew!
    How I wished I had read this on a Sunday morning!

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  41. Subhorup I'm sorry that this is your first post I've read and it's not on your blog - but I'm certainly not sorry I read it. I loved your description of each place and the Sundays so typical of each city. Having lived in Hyderabad for much of my life, Abids was a standard haunt on Sunday mornings. Things just feel so different on a Sunday - I'm glad there's one coming up soon - the prospect of it just got better, reading this post ;)

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  42. Reading the post on a Sunday morning :) took me several sunday's back all the way to my childhood. Sunday's have always been special as you have rightly pointed out. I prefer to get up early even on a Sunday to be able to savour the early morning moments of tranquility. I have had the privilege of enjoying Sunday as both - a working woman and a homemaker-on-a-career-break. It's a pleasure any way. Your post is so refreshing, one read wasn't enough.

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