Saturday, 23 March 2013; 10:30pm
Electronic City, Bangalore

“Your family and your love must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort, and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship flourishing and growing.”

                                                                                                                               – Jim Rohn


Someone has rightly said “Life is a precious gift and its worth recording”. This Feb and March, I visited my family and home in Jharkhand and Bihar. There are so many things I wish to share about the trip, many first time experiences, with moments of fun, celebration and excitement, and a lot about my little doll, my darling daughter, Sanskriti who is 7 months old now. After a short prologue, I present to you saga of the time spent with my loved and very very special ones. 
After completing a mandatory, day long training at work, finishing off project deliverables, I said ‘Good Bye’ to all my office friends. I was so happy and excited, why not?, was traveling home after 6 long months, missing my baby so badly. It was the evening of 19th February. Later, I learnt about the major Bus strike on 20th and 21st Feb. Without taking any chances, I hired a cab for the early morning travel to Yesvantpur Railway Station. I spent the whole night (in) packing stuffs (Due to hectic schedule at work, couldn’t do this earlier) without a single moment of sleep. The cab was at 5 am in the morning and I was quite apprehensive of missing the cab, if I fall asleep. It is another fact that I have beaten alarm on multiple occasions (99.5 % times :)) earlier in my life. I reached the far away station 2 hours in advance. And finally, my journey to hometown began…

2 days at Bokaro (Steel City):

After a somewhat boring journey, I reached Bokaro, the city where I was born and brought up, the city to which so many memories of childhood remains hooked to my mind, at around 2 am in the wee hours of 22nd Feb. My god like parents were eagerly waiting for me. Mom had prepared delicious and some of my favorite dishes.   In spite of saying I had my dinner in Ranchi early in the evening, Maa (Mom) insisted that its already 4-5 hours since you ate last and you must eat at least 2 ‘rotis’ (chapatis) before you go to sleep. Well!, instead of 2 ‘rotis’, I ate full stomach along with Papa. After all, I was eating Mom made food after (many) months, it had all the love of the world apart from being so scrumptious.  After some heart warming conversation on family related matters with my dearest parents I went for sleeping at 4am in the morning. In this way, Day1 of my trip started…

Later in the morning after getting up (from bed), I went to see Rabindra Bhaia, Bhabhi Jee and their two lovely kids. I had nice time talking and playing with the two angels. In the evening, after some shopping in the small sector 6 market with Papa Jee, I went to meet some elderly people in society, of course with sweets, I was going to see them after ages. It felt so good to take their blessings, know how they are doing in their lives, whereabouts of their kids, and many more updates of their world, their life to which I was disconnected for a long period. I felt so good to be in touch with them once again and in fact they also felt exceedingly pleasing to see me after so many years. I remember they use to give ‘me’ as an example of bright student to their kids and as a result I was envied by them (their kids, on the lighter side).

Day2 and final day in Bokaro was dedicated to my Didi (sister), Jeeju and their 3 adorable children, Raja, Prinshy and Rishabh. I along with Maa, Paa were suppose to travel to Village (My father’s birthplace) late in the eveing that day, so we packed all our stuff in the morining before leaving to Didi’s place. We reached sector 9 at around 11 in the morning. Being the youngest of all siblings and Didi next to me, I share a special bond with her, she had always been like my Mother. Since childhood, I enjoyed  share of her food, she covered up for my mistakes and happily listened to all the scoldings from Bade Bhaia or Maa (Yes Papa, never scolded or beat us). So the next few hours I was going to spend with them were so very important for us, I wished I had more number of holidays. Didi had prepared a lot of dishes, all my favorite ones, she cooked food even for our late evening travel. 
I must tell you about my 3 small but way smarter than me friends. No one in the world is as happy and excited than Didi’s 3 kids on my arrival to the city. I had been missing all their birthdays for many years and in spite of telling them (over phone), I would celebrate once I reach Bokaro, I had been missing on that in my past visits. Well!… not this time. We celebrated a ‘Special Birthday’ of my 3 angelic friends and they were ecstatic like never before. Here is a glimpse of those precious moments. 
Special Birthday to Prinshy, Rishabh and Raja

After spending, what I call, some very very special moments with Didi and family, we departed with a heavy heart. Later in the evening, after meeting Bhaia, Bhabhi Jee and their two kids, we left for the Railway station. The first leg of my trip was getting over. The train started at around 11 in the night and I eventually said a good bye to Bokaro. 

1 Day at Village ( in Samastipur):


I was little angry over the excessive (unnecessary, in my perspective) luggage which Papa Jee and Mommy always carry during their travel. Sometime I am not able to think from their perspective, what is important for them, why they feel so connected to small stuffs (I cannot explain in words everything, to be honest with). Out of my short-temperedness, I might have told him few things which I should not have told as a son. I feel sorry about my behavior. In fact this was the only ‘not-so-good’ moment of the entire trip. I care for them like they cared for me when I was a child and I want to see them really happy. I already apologized him in person, I repeat once again, I am sorry Papa, if at all you felt my words were harsh and not pleasant to your ears.  
We reached village ( 40 kms from Samastipur railway station) at around 12 in the noon. Munna, my cousin had come to receive us along with 2 other family kids at the Village bus stand. We walked some distance, crossed a river (Baghmati) and in the process enjoyed the boat ride, eventually reaching our home. 

I caste my Vote for the first time:

Co-incidentally, it was a bye-elction day in my region due to the sudden demise of the current MLA and with this I got the opportunity to exercise my one of the most important fundamental rights as an Indian citizen, the right to vote. Yes, I caste my vote for the first time ever. I had missed previous opportunities living away from home either due to studies or job in previous election times. This was a rich experience, I can still see the marks of black ink on the index finger of my right hand. 
Thereafter, I met villagers greeting them either with hands in Namaskar position or touching their feet (a polite manner to take blessings of elders in our part of the world –info for my  Non-Indian readers J) . I distributed sweets and fruits among the villagers. They became so happy with my small gesture. Loved eating food prepared by ‘Chachi Jee’ (Aunt). I spent the whole day meeting different people in village, encouraged elders to educate their children sincerely and seriously to which most of the villagers responded positively though few people had their own excuses and complaints about education system, infrastructure, kids reluctance to studies and so on. 
With the sun rising, the next morning, my lone day of stay in my native place was coming to an end.  I was due to travel to see my little doll at my Wife’s place in Madhbani, 5 hours drive from Baghla, my village. I said Good bye to Villagers and family people and left for my third and final of my trip.
I meet my Baby:

Sanskriti with her Dad (Me)
I was longing to see my doll. I had not seen my baby in last 6 months. I reached Benipatti at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Ashu, my Brother in Law (BIL) came along with Sanskriti, to receive me at the bus stop. I held my baby in my lap hiding all my emotions in the public place. She was just 8 days old into this world when I had seen her last….. Well! Benipatti and the whole ‘Mithilanchal’ region is famous for greeting all their guests and son-in-laws in particular, with utmost respect and a heart-warming welcome. There is something sweet about this region, and it all starts from the sweetness in their language (Maithili) without a speck of ostentation mixed. 
Nothing in the world makes me happier than the smiling face of my Wifey and my infant kid. I had a marvel of time spending with family at in-law’s place. 
BIL’s Engagement and Visit to Bodh Gaya: 

Next day close relatives started pouring in and the special occasion was my elder BIL’s engagement. The most eligible bachelor in family was going to get hitched. We left for Gaya in the early hours of 27th Feb and reached only by late in the evening. The engagement function was due to be held at a 3-star facility in the holy city of Bodh-Gaya. It was a proud and one of the happiest moment for the entire family. Bhai Jee(That is how I call my elder BIL),  was looking resplendent in his maroon suite with a tie on this special day of his life and so was his soul-mate in her shining bridal wear. I wish him a Very, Very Happy and an ever lasting Married Life. God bless the couple. Well!, I am eagerly waiting for their marriage day due in a month’s time. Here is a first look of the made-for-each-other couple.

Bhai Jee and Bhabhi

It was a memorable day for me for yet another reason, also another first time experience. While I was going on stage after the ring ceremony along with Sanskriti and Rani, my doll peed in my lap for the first time ever. It was indeed a memorable occasion for me. Captured in camera to reminisce that moment after many years. Have a look.
Sanskriti peed on my shirt for the first time …a memorable moment

After that momentous day, it was time to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the holy city of Bodh Gaya where Lord Buddha obtained enlightenment. We visited the Mahabodhi temple complex, where saw the colossal (80 Feet) idol of Gautam Buddha, the tree where God Buddha is said to have received enlightenment, and a series of few other temples, we also visited the pond where I along with my daughter fed grains to the fishes. 
Bodh Gaya
After a soul-satisfying meal, we left for Benipatti in the afternoon (of 28th Feb). I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent in the onward and return journey with kids and got the opportunity to interact with some elderly people in family (from in-law’s side) for the first time.

My Birthday and Sanskriti’s Annaprashan Ceremony:
My planned leaves were already over by now. I hardly got time to spend moments exclusively with Wifey and Sanskriti. So, I planned to extend my leave and take some unplanned leaves. My birthday was approaching (04th March) and I had plans to conduct  Annaprashan ceremony (A formal ceremony which marks the beginning of solid food) for Sanskriti, my cutie, my darling doll.
It was my Birthday. And I was spending this special day with family after a gap of 11 years. Well I shared my Birthday with Prince, a small kid in neighborhood. Presence of Ashu, my younger BIL made it more special. What you see in the pic below is all his work. 
04 March: Prince and Mine Birthday
Well!.. if you are chuckling looking at this pic, let me tell you the small toy baby was a gift for Sanskriti by her ‘Mousi’ (Wifey’s sister) and not for me J. I must admit, this was one of the most memorable birthday in recent times. 
Sanskriti’s Annaprashan: 

After Birthday celebration, it was time for Sanskriti’s Annaprashan ceremony. Family customs says that Baby’s Mama Jee (Maternal Uncle) initiates the annaprashan in a silver bowl with a silver spoon (‘chandi ki katori’ aur ‘chandi ka chamach’ as the elderly people in family say). As far as I am concerned ‘chandi’ (silver) and ‘sona’ (Gold) carries zero value in the given context, and what is important is the food and love.  Have a glimpse of Sanskriti being fed by Ashu, her ‘Chhote Mama Jee’.
Sanskriti with her Mama Jee
My doll was asleep and we had to make efforts to awaken her… as you can notice in the pic above.

My departure and travel back to Bangalore:
The final leg of a memorable trip was getting over. I travelled back to Bangalore the next day (05th March). What a trip it had been. I can’t ask for more love and respect from my family. I love and adore each one of them.   
This completes my saga of the days I spent with family. 
I conclude this blog-piece with Elburt Hubbard’s saying:

No matter what you have done for yourself or for humanity, if you can’t look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished? “

With Love,

Narendra Gupta
24 Mar 2013; 1:40am