Travel

An Autumnal Reverie

That folks are the leaves of my childhood. In Calcutta, when they arrive, they are the auguries of autumn, clear blue skies, gentle breezy days and the night jasmine. These leaves that sway their wise white heads in the wind are called kaash phool in Bengali, wild sugarcane in English. They are also a sigil of the Bengali festival, Durga Puja, when the Goddess Durga is celebrated for 5 days at a stretch with plenty of eating and fasting. The fasting only sharpens the appetite for the feasting that follows and the feasting is naturally followed by indigestion and plenty of digestion supplements.

Durga Puja arrived and went in mid-October and I felt the usual pangs of nostalgia that envelop me annually at this time of the year. It is a nostalgia for childhood I suppose and the goodness of this carnivalesque affair in Calcutta. No other place can measure up to it. Which means that I never go to any pujas around me. Bengali communities gather and celebrate it internationally. I chanced upon doleful version of it in Leicester in the UK once and that ensured that I never made the mistake of going to another one anywhere else. I would rather have the real deal than a pale imitation of it. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes, when a thing is of such significance to you that you have breathed and lived its glory all of your growing up years, you cannot bear for it to be whittled down by any measure.

Here is also one of my favourite season. Autumn. It holds such promise for the end of the year festivities. The chill in the air, the rummaging around in the cupboard for the right wrap and slipping on my favourite pair of boots, travelling and shivering in cold places, looking forward to cups of hot chocolate and mulled wine, pies and roasted meats. Ah, just scribbling about it gets me going. And this entire process of leaves changing colour, shedding their greens for rusts and oranges, makes my heart sing. It makes yours flutter too with deep-seated pleasure, I know.

This year however the incessant rains have given way to rot in the leaves. The trees are transforming their colours in fits and starts here as if confused about how to be. Those by the Hudson have almost turned bald because they cannot withstand the blustery conditions nowadays.

The colours are not as magnificent but I will take what comes my way for who am I to bicker with nature. The other day I stood on the rooftop of my building, the cold wind in my hair, and I marvelled at the way the sun’s dying rays touched everything around me with a tint of gold.Β I present to you an eyeful of kaansh phool that grows on the rooftop, the changing of colours in the park and the city’s skyline in the dying rays of the sun. It was as beautiful as thisΒ process of fading away of the leaves that is a thing of intense beauty. Did Dante Gabriel Rossetti not lay a finger upon the pulse of it when he wrote: ‘And how death seems a comely thing/ In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?’

Meanwhile as they do every year at this time, my neighbours, the squirrels have grown fulsome with their tails like wraps of the lushest sable fur and flocks of geese have decided to take over the racing tracks near the river. All in all, ’tis a joyful affair to go out for a run and hobnob with these delightful creatures of nature that seem to be rather pleased with the touch of cold in the air.

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54 Comments

    • dippydottygirl

      Thank you lovely! πŸ™‚ We are yet to see more of it. I am guessing it should peak by the second week of November. Whatever’s left to peak.

    • dippydottygirl

      Cheers my lovely! I am quite okay, thank you. I am yet to check on all the blogs I follow so I do not know what has been happening at your end. I shall swing by yours to get updated. Trying to get my blogging mojo back. πŸ˜‰

  • The Cozy Pages

    kaansh pool… how lovely both the words and the image.
    The part of the Caribbean I grew up in has large Divali celebrations. My first year in London, I found a celebration and was sorely disappointed. I enjoyed it for what it was but never tried to find one again. As you said, better the real deal than a pale imitation. πŸ˜‰

    • dippydottygirl

      Hear hear. Growing up in the Caribbean must have been colourful and full of memories. I am surprised they had Diwali there, but then again, cultures travel. I suppose our experiences lodge themselves in our heads and hearts and make it difficult to embrace anything less than what we are used to. To the real deal!
      And thanks. Kaansh phool is special to me and possibly all Bengalis! πŸ™‚ xx

      • The Cozy Pages

        Cultures do travel… Trinidad and Tobago was home to a large population of indentured labourers from India in the days after slavery. That has left its mark on the culture, ethnicity and politics of the country. It’s a bit different from the other islands that way. 😊

        • dippydottygirl

          Ah, the days of the Raj, I see. Those poor, poor labourers. Must have been sickening to flee their own country. But that is what the times demanded. Thanks for this brief insight. Every event in history seems to have triggered off consecutive events — that most of us have been affected by, somehow.

  • thewonderer86

    Glorious photos Dippy. I saw squirrels scampering in the park yesterday and thought of you. And I love that line of Rossetti’s. (Mostly there is not that much to love about him!)

    • dippydottygirl

      Hmm now there I have to confess that I have not read him extensively. Just bits here and there.
      Cheers Tracey, I like the association πŸ˜€ I have been amiss about my ritual of catching a few shots of the scamps. xx

  • Sheree

    Gorgeous photos showcasing some lovely fall colours – enjoy. Sadly, we don’t get that in the south of France, too many evergreens.

    • dippydottygirl

      Thanks Megala. I sure do. Maybe it shall get better? Who knows, but I sure can wait. πŸ™‚ Trust you have been well. xx

  • a mindful traveler

    The real change of season is evident in your photos Arundhati. Gorgeous goldens and oranges.
    Your nostalgia was quite touching and I can understand your yearning for family at times like this.
    Hope you guys are well though. Xx

  • annika

    Lovely post and so interesting how relative everything is. More than ever, I’m eager to experience a big Indian festival in India now, all I know are the whittled down ones of North America. Have a wonderful day!

    • dippydottygirl

      Thank you, Annika. It is all relative to what we experience in our formative years. For me it is Calcutta, but for you it would be North America, non? What counts, I suppose, is the memories and feelings we associate with a festival. But if you do get the chance, it might not be a bad idea to have a go at one in the home of its origin.

      You have a good day too! xx

  • carolinehelbig

    What a pretty post. The fall colours and those beautiful clouds set quite the mood. I would love to experience a big authentic Indian festival like the Durga Puja you describe (indigestion and all).

    • dippydottygirl

      Thanks lady! I only wish it would flame out before dying.

      I know you would love Durga Puja, Caroline, or I might just consider changing my name from Arundhati to Albert. xx

  • InspiresN

    Magnificent landscape shots dear! love the contrasting blues and yellows and oranges .We are yet to see the fall colors peak here as well .Great to hear that you have kaash phool on the terraces here and brought back childhood memories .It is so true nothing like festivities back home .

    • dippydottygirl

      Thanks Nisha. πŸ™‚ We are in the same boat. Maybe by the second week of November? One can always hope for more. xx

  • Forestwood

    I can hear how much you miss the Durga Puja festivals of your childhood. Nostalgia is a feeling that can make one melancholic, but can also keep the memories of a past time, alive in our minds! I had wondered about fasting, and feasting! Indigestion doesn’t sound like fun, Arundhati! To see your photos of a “real” Autumn, which I have never experienced, made me excited for my imminent trip to the North! I am really hoping to see some Autumn leaves that we don’t see in the tropics. And that wonderful light in your fourth and final photos – oh it is so glorious!!!

    • dippydottygirl

      Well I am still waiting for autumn to truly blossom here on the East Coast. *fingers crossed.

      I appreciate the empathy and nostalgia is a strange beast, so to say. Fasting and feasting and indigestion – now that’s a story that would take time and Gelusil! Bengalis love food so much, Amanda, that they talk about the next meal at the current one and plan for days at a stretch about how to celebrate through their stomachs during this festival. I have finally begun to cure myself of this ghastly habit of eating more than my frame can bear!

      Cheers πŸ™‚

      • Forestwood

        I was not aware of that tradition in Bengal, so thanks for adding to my knowledge. With a zest for food, there must be some fabulous dishes endemic to that region?

        • dippydottygirl

          Where do I even begin! We are known for our fish, rice and mutton dishes. My favourites are our takes on veggies. We keep the flavours subtle with a hint of chillies. So it is not at all hot and spicy but delicious. Just look at how I take off on the subject?

          I could go on and on but if you ever get the chance, Calcutta is one of the best places you can find yourself in for food. xx

          • Forestwood

            Such a surprise to think of Calcutta as a food capital of the world. I do like the sound of fish and mutton and vege dishes. I must investigate more.

  • The Snow Melts Somewhere

    Your writing is such a pleasure, Miss Dotty, the photos too. While I’m not a fan of cold weather, I do understand you: my fondest childhood memories are hard to explain too, what it was exactly about them. A certain nostalgia that feels like home, I guess.

    • dippydottygirl

      Thank you for the words and the empathy. πŸ™‚ Your writing is much appreciated too – I enjoy the embedded humour. xx

  • victoria lise

    I am seriously enthralled with your storytelling, recounting of touching memories, and poetic captures that are like an elixir to the soul! So beautiful your take on life and how you express it- amazing, amazing! Thank you for sharing, your site is my new favorite book ❀️

    • dippydottygirl

      Aww words like these make me beam like my favourite neighbour dog. Thank you, lovely! The appreciation is returned doubly. Your writing and photography leaves me with the need to keep popping back to your blog, time and again. xxx

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