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BENGALI CULTURAL SOCIETY, READING

S H A R

A D

U T S A V

2 0 1 7 26th-30th September 2017 RIVERMEAD LEISURE COMPLEX, RICHFIELD AVENUE RG1 8EQ


Table of Contents

Message from Chairman

Chandan Bhowmik

About BCS & Puja Schedule

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Cultural Events

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Art Exhibition

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First Things First

Swami Dayatmananda

A Dog’s Life

Niharika Roy Choudhury

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Into The Wild

Soham Das

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বাঙ্গালীর শব্দক াষ

Abhishek Banerjee

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The Big Task

Shrish Gupta

BCS Event

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14-15 16-17

Macher Jhol

Shilpi Chakraborty

Art

Adrika Saha

Art Entries

18-21 22 24

A Special Date

Anoushka Bhattacharya

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Bangla Poem

Taposmoy Paul

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Special Thanks to : Biswajit Chakraborty for donating the Ashtami bhog in the name of his late father, Bijoy Kumar Chakraborty

Cover page Artwork by :Senjuti Manna BCS Logo design by: Ekta Bhattacharjee Brochure design by : Nandini Sinha Website: www.durgapujareading.com

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Message from Chairman

Dear Friends,

The fifth year of Reading Autumn Festival and Durga Puja celebrations begins on Tuesday 26 th September. Bengali Cultural Society is proud to bring this great socio- cultural event to the community and hope to bring this for years to come. A warm welcome to our members, volunteers, sponsors and all our other friends and supporters.

So what impact has the Autumn Festival had in the community in the last five years? They came in their hundreds and thousands, they came in their finest clothes, they looked beautiful, they met friends and made friends, they laughed and made others laugh, they sang, they danced, they took part in the religious chants, they prayed, they soaked in the culture, they liked the food, but most of all they felt happy under the gracious gaze of Maa Durga. And we feel proud that we could help them realise this happiness.

Durga Puja is one of the most important Hindu festivals. The Hindus claim no superiority over any other faith or religion. We believe individuals can realise God in their own way. The underlying tolerance of the Hindu faith is quite distinct from other major religions of the world. That is why, for centuries, multiple religious traditions flourished in India. Moreover, it is common to find various sects of Hinduism worshipping together in Durga Puja. Swami Vivekananda, the great scholar of Hindu religion, once said, all quarrel about religion and disputes concerning religion simply shows that spirituality is not present.

In celebration of the fifth anniversary of our Durga Puja we have organised a very special musical evening on 28th October at The Hexagon Theatre , Reading. We hope you will be there with all your family and friends to make it a success.

I wish you all very happy Durga Puja and Dussera celebrations.

Chandan Bhowmik

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Bengali Cultural Society Reading -UK Registered Charity - 1161671


About BCS Bengali Cultural Society, Reading (UK Registered charity – 1161671) is a cultural organization set up by the local Bengali community in 1982. As one of the oldest cultural organisations of its kind, our mission is to practise and preserve Bengali culture and its literary, artistic and educational heritage. We provide a focal point for Bengalis in and around Reading & Berkshire and help to foster and promote the rich cultural heritage of Bengalis and Indians. BCS welcomes anyone sympathetic to its causes who wants to join and participate in any of its activities. We’d like to thank Reading Borough Council, Rivermead Management and all our members, sponsors, contributors, and patrons for their continuous support. Patrons: Dr. Archana Gargav, Dr. Ashok Gargav, Mr. Alok Sharma MP, Dr. Mani Karim, Dr. Apurba Chatterjee, Mr. Vinod Sharma Chairman: Chandan Bhowmik Durga Puja Steering Committee: Chandan Bhowmik, Prosenjit Banerjee, Sangita Nandi, Sudeshna Banerjee, Shipra Saha, Ratna Ghosh, Milan Biswas, Rana Ray, Siddhartha Sinha, Nandini Sinha, Jayita Guin, Arpita Dutta, Sourav Dutta, Somtirtha Saha, Sanjay Paul, Angshuman Mukherjee, Shilpi Mitra, Senjuti Manna, Gouri Chatterjee.

PUJA SCHEDULE

Puja will be conducted by Mr. Kalyan Banerjee

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Cultural Events Our aim is to involve the children and young people of all communities and provide them with the opportunity to experience the rich heritage of India and the diverse culture of Britain. While enjoying learning new things, they would also be able to express their emotions in the form of dance/drama; interpret music and text using their distinctive style and sound, and integrate any new information to their existing learning.

Competitions & Day Events on: Tuesday 26th Sept - Conch Shell Blowing Competition - 7pm Saturday 30th Sept - Children’s Talent Show - 11am, Dhunuchi Dance Competition – 4pm Wednesday 27th September– 7pm— Garba/Dandiya Dance

Highlights of Cultural Programmes on the evenings of: Thursday 28th September– 6pm Songs by Ratna Ghosh Bengali and Bollywood Songs - Modern and Oldies – by Souymen Adhikari from India Friday 29th September– 6pm Modern Bengali Songs by the adult members of BCS, Reading “Nrityanjali” - Classical Dance Performance by “Kalakunj” Melodious Bengali and Bollywood Songs by Indrani Datta “Goopi & Bagha’s Ramleela” by Adda Cultural, Slough Bollywood Group Dance by Asha Semwal and team

Saturday 30th September – 6pm Performance by the students of Manoranjan School of Indian Music Dance Presentation by the children of BCS, Reading Recitation by Indrani Lahiri Kathak Performance by Nataraj Dance Academy - led by Dr Piyali Basu Mahisura Murdini - Odissi Dance Presentation by “Kala-The Arts”. Contemporary Dance by Paramita Agarwal Popular Bengali & Hindi melodies by Rupashree Bollywood Dance Presentation by “My Dance Land” – led by Aradhana Singh

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Art Exhibition Bengali Cultural Society, Reading has organised the Secondary Schools Art Exhibition and Competition for the past 3 years, where senior schools in and around Reading have participated. Each school submits up to five entries from a maximum of five students attending their school. Some pictures from 2017 art exhibition.

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First things First By Swami Dayatmananda

Time passes away so swiftly; and it is lost for ever. It is time to look back on the progress we have made and plan ahead for greater progress with renewed hope and aspiration. Sometimes, of course, we do feel despondent and frustrated when we see how little progress we have made. There is no need to despair. The future is bright and holds enough opportunity to make our lives worthwhile. Truthfulness, single-minded devotion to the ideal, patience and surrender to God – these are the four important qualities that are absolutely indispensable to success in any field of life inclusive of spiritual progress. 1.

Truthfulness

Sincerity, honesty, a right way of living, hard work, and of course speaking the truth – all these fall under the category of truthfulness. `Shraddha’ is the Sanskrit word. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that truthfulness is the austerity of this age. He himself was an embodiment of truthfulness. Truth speaking in time leads one to Truth-seeking and ultimately to Truth which is God. Truthfulness according to Sri Ramakrishna is to make the mind and speech one (Man mukh ek koro). It is not such a simple affair. One must be aware of what is going on in the depths of one’s mind. We have a habit of deceiving ourselves. Rarely, psychologists tell us, that we are aware of what is going on in depths of our unconscious mind. Tremendous courage, sincerity, honesty and objectivity are needed to be able to delve within and find out what goes on within. But there is no other way to freedom and self-improvement. “Have Bhakti within, and give up all cunning and deceit. Truthfulness is the Tapasya (austerity) of this age. “When mind and speech unite in earnestly asking for a thing, that prayer is answered. “Be not a traitor to your thoughts. Be sincere: act according to your thoughts; and you shall surely succeed. Pray with a sincere and simple heart, and your prayers will be heard. What you think, that you should speak. Let there be harmony between your thoughts and words.”

2. Nishtha or single-minded devotion to one's ideal Sri Ramakrishna has taught the harmony of all religions. Although it is true that every religion is a valid path leading one to God realisation it is absolutely necessary to choose one particular path suited to one’s nature and stick to it. Otherwise it will lead to no good. These days we come across many spiritual shoppers, who go on drifting from religion to religion, from one Guru to another in search of easy shortcuts. There is no shortcut to spiritual progress. One has to walk the hard way. This sticking to one ideal is called `Nishtha’ i.e. single-minded devotion to one’s ideal. Sri Ramakrishna was very emphatic that one cannot progress in any field without it.

“The unflinching devotion (Nishtha) of the Gopis is wonderful. When the Gopis went to see Krishna in Mathura, they got admission into the audience chamber after begging the sentinel at the gate several times. But when they saw Krishna there, with a turban on, they bent their heads and began to whisper among themselves, "Who is this turbaned man? We won't talk with him lest we should be culpable of infidelity to our Krishna. Oh, where is our Lord, that supremely Beloved, who wears a yellow cloth and a crest of peacock feathers’. "Ah! mark the single-hearted devotion of the Gopis!

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Contd...

3. Patience. Infinite patience is needed in order to make headway in any field. One must do what has to be done to the best of one’s ability. That much alone is in Man’s hands. The rest lies in the hands of the Lord. Patience seems to be the commodity this age lacks very much. We are brought up to expect instantaneous fulfilment – instant coffee, instant communication, fast travel – everything instantaneous. The slightest delay seems to bring on rage frustration, anger etc. As a Swami puts it humorously, `Be patient, otherwise you will become a patient’. To do one’s best and wait patiently under all circumstances is a great spiritual quality. Everything happens at the right time. “He who bears lives”, Sri Ramakrishna used to say. “The hereditary peasant does not give up tilling the soil though it may not rain for twelve years; but a merchant who has recently taken to agriculture is discouraged by one season of drought. The true believer is never discouraged even if he fails to see God in spite of lifelong devotion. “Look at the anvil of a blacksmith - how it is hammered and beaten; yet it moves not from its place. Let men learn patience and endurance from it”.

4. Surrender to God. Having done all that one should do one has to surrender oneself to God. Surrender to God is not the way of defeatism. It is an act of supreme freedom. Only a hero can do it. Surrender to God makes one completely and absolutely free, for Freedom is another name for God. Only he who strives his hardest is capable of real self-surrender. Obviously it is not easy. And God takes care of a devotee who surrenders himself to Him totally. He knows that whatever happens is ordained by God for his own good. Whatever be the circumstances a devotees always looks up to God in every way. Every action of such a devotee expresses joy, peace and contentment. In truth, spiritual progress does not depend on what one does; it depends on God’s grace alone. His grace comes only to one who depends on Him alone. Self-surrender is the last word in spiritual practice. All spiritual practices will and must, in the end, lead to complete surrender to God.

“Give up everything to Him, resign yourself to Him, and there will be no more trouble for you. Then you will come to know that everything is done by His will. “There is no path safer and smoother than that of complete self-surrender. It means resigning oneself to the will of the Almighty and having no feeling that anything is one's own. “He who can resign himself to the will of the Almighty with simple faith and guileless love realises the Lord very quickly.”

Every spiritual aspirant must strive to develop these four qualities. Without these there is no hope of ever reaching the goal. With these success in spiritual life is inevitable.

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A Dog’s Life Niharika Roy Choudhury (10 yrs old)

Jerry is a dog by the old house His name is from a bright young mouse He loves when people from the street come by

Especially when they give him a piece of their pie He sits at the side of a broken shed And lies as if he were always dead. As summer comes once again The pollen is really a pain For a dog so strong Cannot be wrong About the way he will stay Alive everyday ! The days fly past And the world is still vast When he barks very loudly Children think he is cowardly Only because he stays so meek Everyone thinks he is very weak But he is truly so tough And can never be rough.

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INTO THE WILD Soham Das (9 yrs old)

One sunny day, Billy sat up and yawned sleepily. Then rubbing his eyes wearily, he got dressed, looked down at his watch and it was 5 o'clock! He was due to leave at 05:30a.m (although he was unsure why). Before you know it they were rapidly hastening away in a giant truck. Just after finishing his daily bowl of cheerios he saw that the truck had parked in front of a colossal house: a mansion. Suddenly in his mind came up that he was in a truck, he was in a mansion, and they barely drove around in a truck (only every time they moved house)! Weirdly his dad was driving the truck which he thought was a moving house truck. Then he saw, in the storage of the truck … A SOFA?! “What!” he complained enraged to his mum. After his mum had placated him, she explained that it was his dad's first day at his new delivery job and his father thought it would be more apt if they went with him. Soon they got home. His mum went on her computer, his dad went to his bed for a nap, Sam, Billy's sister went off to play in the garden with Billy. Whilst sprinting across at the garden Sam fell into a tomato bush and for safety Billy jumped in as well. Then they noticed that they were falling a long way down. where there was no landing. For a few minutes they were in pitch black and without warning they landed on what looked to them like a paradise island. They relaxed to recover from the extreme speed of falling through the subterranean hole. After an extreme race through a deep dark forest they came to a place that had an extremely attractive scenery for them to gaze upon. Not long after Sam spotted a trapezium shaped mountain well tucked behind the others towering one another. Soon she saw a orange liquid outburst of it, there was some smoke hastening out of the mountain. At last she saw that it was a volcano... an active volcano! Not long after that they were no longer tottering around but mindlessly sprinting back through a familiar forest. Before long they were at the outskirts of the forest and being chased by a growing stream of lava. Just as they were taking their last breath and there final sight, a tomato bush appeared out of no where. “what”, his sister asked in a startled voice. “I guess that is our ride home”, Billy answered wisely. So in they went, after a matter of seconds they were in pitch black and falling and had no chance of stopping. When they arrived Sam went to explain to their parents, and out of the corner of Billy’s eye, he saw a drip of molten lava coming from a bush...

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বাঙ্গালীর শব্দক াষ By Abhishek Banerjee ভানু বাবু বকলছিকলন তার ছিছির এ টা অসুখ আকি, নাম 'শব্দক াষ' - কষ কষ শব্দ ভরা থাক যা ারকন অ ারকন ছিটক ববছিকে আকস ! ! তকব আজ আমাকের আকলাচ্য ছবষকে স্বামীস্ত্রীর মতান্তর বা ষা মাাংসর বরছসছি নকে . . . বাঙ্গালীর থয ভাষাকে খাকেযর প্রভাব। শুরু রছি বাঙ্গালীর অতন্ত ছপ্রে সবজজ 'আলু' ছেকে। আলু িািা বাঙাছল ভাত বখকতই িারকব না - একেবাকর প্রাকন মারা যাকব। আলু বসধধ ভাত এর সাকথ ছি ও লঙ্কা হল বাঙ্গাছলর লাইফ ব্লোড। ততশহ যছে বা ডাল বসধধ ছডকমর অমকলট বজাকট - তাহকল বতা মহাকভাজ। এই ছবসুধ ছনশিাি আলু বয ছ ভাকব বাঙ্গাছল িুরুকষর যাকরক্টার সার্টি ছফক ট হকে োাঁিাল ববাঝা ভার! বোষী হকে লাঞ্ছনাকে তার জীবন ব কট বিল। তকব এই আলুর সাকথ বাঙ্গাছল িুরুকষর লাইফ সাইক ল ছ ন্তু জছিকে - ছবকের আকির জীবকন বয চ্ু রমুর বা চ্কির আলু, বসই এছ মানুষ ছবকের িকি এ েম আলুকসধ! আর বাঙ্গাছলর অনন্ত লযাকের সাকথও সাকহবকের তইছর রা বাগ্ধারা 'couch potato' - জাতীও স্বী ৃ ছত প্রাপ্ত! বাঙ্গাছলর লযাে ছ ন্তু যকথস্ত সাস্থ র -মনহর আইকচ্র মত িাকলাোন বচ্হারা না হকলও, মজস্তষ্ক সঞ্চাল যন্ত্রর্ট ছ ন্তু আমাকের অকন তীক্ষ্ণ! আমারা ছসকনমা বেছখ, িান শুছন, িল্প ছলছখ, বপ্রম ছর. . .শরীর চ্চ্িাকে বাঙ্গাছলর ওো ওভার, ছ ন্তু বরাল মকডল 'বফলুো'! বসই মাইক ল এর লাইন বথক বাঙ্গাছল জাকন 'জজিকল মছরকত হকব. . .অমর ব ব াথা কব?' তাই বাঙাছল তার এ র্ট অছত ছপ্রে সবজজ উৎসি ি করকি এই মরনক - 'িটল'! থয ভাষার বযা রকণ িটল বতালা অকথ নাকমর ি আকি চ্ন্দ্রছবন্দু ! লযাে খাওোর বযািাকরও বাঙ্গাছলর এ সবজজ-ছনছত আকি - লযােকখার সুিার অলস অ মণয ি িুরুষ বা মছহলাক 'ঢযাাঁিস' বকল সকবাধন রা যাকে। অকন সমাকে ববা া বলা ক ও 'ঢযাাঁিস' বলা হকে। WHO এ র্ট িকবষণা কর বেকখকি - যছেও খেয গুকন ভরিুর এই সবুজ সছির সাকথ আলকসযর ন সম্প ই ি বনই, বাঙ্গাছলর ছ ন্তু 'ঢযাাঁিস' শব্দ মকন একলই তার বচ্না ব ানও মানুকষর মুখ মকন িকর! এ বার বচ্াখ বুকঝ বেখুন না. . . সাঙ্খ্য েশকন ি বলা ছিল ছ না র্ি বলকত িারব না - তকব, োশছন ি বাঙ্গাছল 'শুকনযর' মত ছবশাল এ অনুভূছত ছনতান্ত জািছত এ রুি ছেকেকি - তাক ' লা' বা ' াাঁচ্ লা' বকল। হকেত আছে শঙ্কর এ ছেন স াকল বে ফাকে আস্ত এ র্ট লা বখকে বভকবছিকলন 'েহ্ম সতয - জিত ছমথযা'! এিারা জুছভনাইল অ াল িেতা বঝাকত 'এাঁকচ্াকি িা া' বলা, বেরািী স্বভাব ববাঝাকত 'ধাছন লঙ্কা', এমনছ িাকি বঝালা াাঁিালক ও বাঙ্গাছল চ্াকিছন ছেজি বিাাঁকফ বতল বমকখ বকস বথক - আমাকের জাছতও অবসকর িছরনত করকি! বয ঈশ্বরী িাটু নী অিোর বথক তার সন্তানকের েুধ ভাকতর আশীবাে ি ছনকেছিল - বসই 'েুধ ভাত' থার্ট বাঙাছল সারা জীবন প্রকোি করকি িািাকে ছনকজর বথক বেসী ব ান সাথীক ইছঙ্গত কর। আবার 'েুধ ভাত' বথক িকোিছত হবার আনকন্দ বাছি ছিকে সবাই ব জাছনকেকি 'বি হকে বিলাম আজক ' ! িূছণমার ি চ্াাঁে, ছবর ল্পনাকে, হকেকি 'ঝলসাকনা রুর্ট' - ছ ন্তু ছমকথয ছব হকেত 'ঢকির' সাকথ 'চ্ি' ছমছলকেকিন! !

থার

থযরুি ছ

কর চ্কির সাকথ যুক্ত হকে ব

জাকন ? বলক র ধাকর চ্াকে চ্ু মু

ছেকে - ব ান

বশষ রার আকি বলা ের ার বাঙাছল ছ ন্তু এখন যকথষ্ট স্বাস্থয সকচ্তন - প্রচ্ন্দ ছনম্নচ্াকির মকধয, লাইন ছেকে োছরকে মাাংকশর চ্াি বখকে রক্তচ্াি মানর জকনয - বযাি বযাোম রকি। বস এতছেনএ বুকঝকি 'রতন' নাকমর ছিিকন 'টাটাই' বশাভা িাকে এবাং বরাহকের যা ছপ্রে খাদ্দ ' চ্ু ' - বসই ' চ্ু ' িুছিকে বখকে জীবকনর রসস্বাধন রকত রকত ছনকজর ' চ্ু বিািা' িাল ছনকে 'বিািা' ব ািালভাছত করই বমাক্ষ লাভ হকব! ! !

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The Big Task

SHRISH GUPTA DOLPHIN SCHOOL, AGE 8 YEARS, Y3

One day, Christian and Riyad were playing in a park when suddenly Riyad saw a sign written funnily.

They thought it was in Chinese so they asked their friend Niang to confirm if it was. But Niang didn’t know but he said he had a book of all the languages spoken around world. When Niang got back he looked at his book and said it’s definitely not a language spoken around the world. Christian said it could be an ALIEN language. At that very moment 15 aliens came out of nowhere and said weirdly “bee bee bop boo bee baa buuu bii bui bua bai bea bei bie.” They were evil aliens.

“Sorry?” said Christian. “Remember they are aliens,” reminded Riyad. Niang said he could help and said he could bring his alien spray can, Riyad said he could bring his pistol and Christian said he could bring his alien book. When they got back they joined each other’s equipment and it turned out to be one of the coolest electronic. The pistol shot out alien spray and it looked up in the book their questions and then said it out loud.

When they did that they tested it out then they started shooting the aliens. There were 20,000, they killed 7000 and injured 300 of them. They went to find the owner of the park but it turned out that he was kidnapped by the aliens. He was tied in ropes so they couldn’t get him out. They started hearing footsteps and before they could escape they were kidnapped. The owner knew them very well but he carried on asking them which country they were from. Riyad said Turkey, Christian said Poland and Niang said Hong Kong. First they had to face the lava river. They had to sit on a stone that won’t melt, they found one call Federtyier they went across and met the monster Kumbercon who breathed out fire with his mouth (probably the most stinky breath ever!). Then they met the robot bull who was super easy to beat all they did throw a rock at it but then they faced Djenivios who almost killed Niang and the owner of the park but they managed make him fall and get knocked out. Then they got the stone as soon as they touched everything was normal again and they were famous. When they had grandchildren, they told them about it.

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The Big Task– Contd.

Then they asked him why he carried on asking them that. He said because he liked annoying people! Suddenly something extraordinary happened. They found out that the aliens used to rule the world long time ago and wanted it back now. But the aliens could be stopped if they found the precious emerald. If they found a way to get the emerald, the emerald will make the aliens go back to space but they also need to find the Handreaveas’s stone to make them stay there forever. It was a long journey but they managed to reach the maze, but this wasn’t any old maze, it had a river of lava, a monster called Djenivios, a sort of bull robot but worst of all Kumbercon a demon.

First they had to face the lava river. They had to sit on a stone that won’t melt, they found one call Federtyier they went across and met the monster Kumbercon who breathed out fire with his mouth (probably the most stinky breath ever!). Then they met the robot bull who was super easy to beat all they did throw a rock at it but then they faced Djenivios who almost killed Niang and the owner of the park but they managed make him fall and get knocked out. Then they got the stone as soon as they touched everything was normal again and they were famous. When they had grandchildren, they told them about it.

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Macher Jhol Shilpi Chakraborty Sommnath Roy sprawled his enormous bulk on the chair and propped his feet on a wicker stool. There was nothing like taking a lazy nap on the balcony after a salubrious meal of rice and fish in tongue-scalding sauce made of garlic, chili and onion paste. He could still feel the fiery taste on his tongue. He looked at the mound of his belly undulating like a swelling wave as he took steady breath. His wife often badgered him to reduce his intake of rice as the starch was ballooning up his belly, but he didn’t bother to listen to her. What the heck, he enjoyed his rice and fish. The phone rang. Slicing the air its shrill sound reached straight to his ears. He heaved his body from the chair, cursing the person who rang at this hour. “Helllo,” he said, trying hard not to sound irritated. “Baba, it’s me, Shona.” Of course, he knew who she was; she need not introduce herself. He knew it just the moment when the voice mouthed the first syllable. He knew it was none other than his only daughter calling from England. Gone was the sleep in his eyes, all traces of irritation disappeared, the voice radiated so much warmth that he felt sluggishness melting away from his body. His heart was pulsating with love, he wanted to reach out to her and smother her with wet kisses and watch her puckering her lips in disgust, the way she used to when she was baby, but he knew she was a woman now and he had to keep his distance and his emotions lidded. “How is my darling daughter? You must be on your way to office now. Are you wearing your scarf? You always get a sore throat in cold.” “Yes, Baba, I am properly clothed. And what fish did you have for lunch today?” “Oh, I angled a prize catch today. As I walked into the fish market, my eyes fell on this big carp fish, the length of my hand. Its scales looked like polished silver and its eyes were glassy as marbles. I wanted to get my hands on it at once but I didn’t want to look desperate. I haggled for five minutes, and as usual the fish monger gave in. When he was cutting it into pieces, I could see its pink and soft flesh. Your Ma made a curry with onion paste which tasted sublime.” His rambling was cut short by his daughter. “Baba, I want to tell you something.” “Sorry, Sorry. Yes, what is it?” “I met someone here. And I really like him a lot.” The hairs on his hands stood stiff like needles and for some moments he thought his heart was not in his chest anymore but plummeted to the ground like roller coaster. “Baba, you there?” “Is he English?” “No, Baba. He is an Indian and a Bengali. They are from Kolkatta, but he has been living in England for many years. I wanted to come home next month and I was thinking of bringing him along.” “Did you say he is a Bengali? No worries bring him home. I will ask your Ma to make an elaborate meal for him. Oh, we will have so much to talk about; literature, music and food.” “But Baba… “Don’t worry, no matter where a Bengali lives his interests are always the same. Now you dash off to work. I need to share this piece of good news with your mother,” he said. He was aghast when his daughter decided to go to England to work there as an IT consultant for a few years. And since the day she left a fear had been always lurking inside him like a spider on a wall. What if one day she walked in with a light-skinned, blueeyed, long-limbed English guy tucked into her arm. A guy whose upbringing, food habits, way of life, everything was different from his. What would he say to him? How many times would he have to say sorry to comprehend a single sentence? Of course he would welcome him, he would respect his daughter’s choice, but at heart he would always wish if only he had been an Indian. And now his daughter had allayed all his fears, she was coming home with a Bengali boy. The news was sweeter than birdsong to his ears. He would have a long talk with him over a meal of rice and fish.

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Macher Jhol– Contd. Somnath Roy’s love for fish could be chronicled. Fish was not just a type of food to fill stomach, for him it was gastronomy right from zeroing on the best fish, cooking it with the correct blending of spices and then eating it with relish—dexterously removing the soft flesh from the bones and then at the end chewing and sucking the last bit of juice out of the bones until nothing was left of it. Every morning right after breakfast he would be on his way to the fish market with a gunny bag dangling from his stocky hand. He would walk down the slushy aisle of the fish market in his weather beaten slippers, worn specially for this purpose, oblivious to the muck and dirt underfoot. The atmosphere boomed with the clamorous din of the fish mongers and the thwacking of sharp blades that fell on the slivery creatures, but nothing could distract him, like a shooter his eyes were set on the target. He would eye up the best ones, whether it was the always astronomically priced and bonier Illish, juicy pink prawns or the fleshy Rui crammed with eggs. At the end he would always walk out triumphantly with the prize catch nestled in the bag. He never had to tell his wife how he wanted his fish to be prepared. His wife knew it when she unloaded the vegetables and fish from the shopping bag. She knew whether he wanted his prawns in thick coconut gravy or with fresh and fleshy bottle gourd, and if it was carp fish she knew whether he wanted it cooked in yoghurt sauce or a simple wholesome curry with an assortment of vegetables like cauliflower, potato and aubergine.. Nothing was wasted; even the head of fish was cooked with aromatic rice, potato and spices and turned into a delicacy. A day before his daughter’s visit, the whole house was being readied for her welcome. The servants were asked to clean the windows inside out and polish the glass panes with crumpled newspaper so that it looked sparkly and shiny as new. Washed and sun fresh curtains graced the doors and windows, floors were scrubbed with sweet smelling disinfectant, cobwebs that had gathered in high corners were cleaned and bed covers embroidered by his late mother were taken out of the closet and spread out. While the servants were cleaning and tidying up the house, Somnath Roy and his wife discussed the menu. “I will go to the fish market early morning tomorrow so that I can get the freshest of fish. I think we should have three types of fish on the table--a dry spicy curry with small fish, a simple jhol with carp fish and steamed Illish. I think that should be sufficient.” Mrinal knew how much he loved to treat his guests to good home made food and every time they invited someone to their house he would always go overboard and plan a menu which was more elaborate than a marriage feast and she had a hard time reining his child-like enthusiasm. “Don’t you think it is a bit too much? I have no problems cooking all that stuff but you must realize that today’s generation can’t eat like you used to when you were young. They are small eaters and they are very conscious about what they eat,” she said. “Nonsense, he will devour home made food, after all he has been out of the country for so long. And this is the first time Shona’s friend is coming to our place, we need to make an impression on him. We will go ahead with this menu.” His daughter was to arrive any moment. He stood near the gate in a white crisp kurta pyjama, his hair oiled and smoothed back and his hands folded on his chest. As he saw the car approaching, his face lit up as if a thousand stars had shone on him and he called out to the servants to inform his wife that their daughter had arrived. “Kemon acho, Baba. I missed you so much,” she said. As he felt his daughter’s touch after such a long time, every sinew, every muscle, every nerve, every vein in his body came alive. He tried to find the baby smell in her body, the odor that made him go numb, but now it was replaced by a fashionable artificial fragrance. “Look how thin you have become. Are you on some diet?” he said, scrutinizing her from up close. She was about to reply when a swarthy, robust-looking man with broad shoulders and strong legs stood in front of them, luggage hanging from his shoulders and hands. The man was gleaming with health and energy, and there was something about the way he smiled, it connected instantly. “Sorry, Ashim for not helping you with the luggage. It is just that…,” she said, trying to take some load off him. “Hey, not to worry. I can understand. I would have done the same if I were in your place.” “Baba, this Ashim.” “I have heard so much about you. I was desperate to meet you. Shona says we two will have a great time as we both are talkers,” Ashim said, dropping the luggage to the ground and touching Somnath Roy’s feet to take his blessing. He let out a booming laugh which shook his Budha belly vigorously. “Did she say that? Then I am sure we will. Come on let’s go inside,” he said.

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Macher Jhol– Contd. While his daughter hovered in the kitchen chatting with her mother as she stirred one dish after another, the men took steps to know each other. They clicked instantly. Conversation flowed easily and there was never an awkward moment. Ashim was a great talker, not that type who rattled off nonsense, but an intelligent conversationalist who talked of fascinating things and drew others into it. He was a good listener too, his attention was unwavering, his gaze fixated on Roy’s face as he spoke as if he was listening to a revered guru. He also observed that he chose his topics carefully; he never spoke of things which were foreign to his generation, making him feel that he was talking to a friend. It was too early to say whether he was putting up an act to impress his girl friend’s father, but he had the feeling that he was a genuine man who had a good upbringing. “Uncle, do you listen to Rabindra Sangeet?” Ashim asked. “Of course, I do. There are very few people of our generation who don’t listen to this musical genre. There was a time when I used to listen to Hemanta Mukhopadhay’s renditions obsessively, I love his deep resonating voice,” he said. “I am a big fan too. But more than the melody, I am a great admirer of the RS lyrics. Tagore gave a microcosm of Bengali society and its culture in his poems. He is one of the few poets who wrote both about the elite as well as the impoverished.” “What do you think of the new interpretations and variations by the new singers?” “I am a traditionalist RS. I don’t have anything against the new singers, but I just don’t feel that languid romanticism in their renditions. Some things are better untouched,” he said. He had been half sick with fear thinking that one day his daughter would bring home someone whom he wouldn’t like, with whom his wavelength would never match, but now he was proud of his daughter’s choice. The grand feast finally began. Food was served in decorative polished brass plates and bowls that bounced off light when sun rays fell on them. A small mound of rice in the shape of a cake was placed at the center of a plate, the size of a lotus leaf. A small heap of salt, green chilli, a wedge of sweet smelling lemon and pieces of deep fried golden brown aubergine coated in rice flour lay in one side. Small bowls of curries and lentils of different textures — rich, mild, fiery hot, as well as varied colour palette—red, brown, yellow— circled the plate as satellites around the sun. There were fishes of different shapes, sizes and species—striped small tangra lathered in a dry, spicy sauce, palm-sized pieces of carp fish bobbing in a dark red sauce and baked hilsa wrapped in tender plantain leaves. As Ashim walked to the dining table, the contours of his face changed— he looked in awe at the king’s spread laid out on the table. “My God, Aunty, why did you take so much pain? I feel bad, I caused you so much trouble,” he said. “Please, it was a pleasure. It’s a way of saying how happy we are to have you with us. Now enjoy your food,” she said with a warm motherly smile. As Ashim and his wife talked, Roy’s eyes fell on his daughter. She looked a bit blanched and was unusually quiet. Something in her silence told him that some thing was bothering her. It was hard for him to tell what was going on in her mind. What’s the matter with her? She should look jubilant, now that we have approved her choice, he thought. He decided to find it out after lunch. He was so busy romancing his food--mixing rice with curry, putting it in his mouth and then letting his tongue enjoy all the flavours before swallowing it—that he didn’t notice that Ashim had finished only a small portion of rice with lentils and vegetables, and the fish curries lay untouched. “What’s the matter? Aren’t you enjoying the food?” he asked. “Oh, no, Uncle, it is very good. It is just I am not used to such an elaborate meal.” “Come on, at this age you should have an appetite of a monster. You should have no problem finishing this off,” he said. Ashim looked like a child lost in the woods. Roy saw he was highly unskilled when it came to separating bones from the flesh. He picked a few tangra fish from the curry, haphazardly mixed it with rice and forced it down his throat with water as if he was taking some bitter dose of medicine. At one time he started using both his hands, his plate looked like garbage bin with food thrown all over the place. For a connoisseur of fish like him it was a repulsive sight. He lost his appetite; he pushed the plate away from him, got up and walked out of the room without speaking a word. His daughter had kept him in dark; she didn’t disclose to him that Ashim was a non-fish eater. Why did she do that? Did she think he won’t be able to see through the lie? He really wanted to pass on his love of fish to his son-in-law. He had great plans in mind--one day he wanted to take him to the fish market and teach him how to differentiate between a fresh and a stale fish. He wanted to share with him some interesting fish trivia—how the salt content in the water determined the taste of Ilish mach, and many more. He was sitting on the bed and looking out of the window when his daughter came in and sat beside him. He became stiff as a stick. “Baba, listen to me. Give me a chance to explain, please,” she said.

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Macher Jhol– Contd. He turned around to face his daughter; trying hard to cloak the anguish and hurt he felt profoundly, but it was stamped all over his face. “Baba, I always wanted to tell you that Ashim is non fish eater. But he told me that if it meant so much to you, he would go ahead and try to eat fish. I knew he would make a mess of it and you would find it out eventually, but he was so keen on pleasing you that I let him have his way,” she said. “Did you realize how much pain your mother took in preparing all these? Of course, I would have been hurt if you told me about this fact earlier, but I would be prepared. But now I feel insulted; I feel like a fool.” “We are sorry. I really like this man. And he is a very good human being. I can never be at peace, knowing the fact that I have caused you pain. Give us another chance, please.” Her complete candour assuaged his anguish somewhat. He knew he had to shed his prejudices and petty thinking as it would be extremely puerile of him if he judged Ashim based on the fact that he was a non fish eater. There was no denying the fact that he was a likeable character, and more importantly his daughter liked him. “Come Baba, finish your lunch. They are waiting for you.” “You go and join them. I will be there in a minute.” As he watched her walk out of the room, he was suddenly transported to the time when she was a baby. She had just learnt to walk; she surveyed the house on her stubby legs, the bells she wore on her ankles, pealing softly. Roy loved to blow raspberries on her butter-soft stomach and watch her wiggle and let out gurgles of laughter. The good old memories brought a smile to his lips. She was still his baby, and he would do nothing to spoil her happiness. Roy stood up and walked out of the room to join others. He was hungry now, and wanted to tuck into some rice and fish curry.

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Adrika Saha ( 10.5 years old)

Nandini's Bar & Dining in West Byfleet, Surrey serves authentic street food and Indian royale. The dishes in the Menu are from Northern , southern & eastern part of India. Come & try our house special Bengali delicacies Sarso Mach, Macher Kalia & many more. We also do in house parties and outdoor catering for all type of events at a reasonable price. Please contact Ateen for any queries on 01932354807/07766476599 or email: ateen@nandinisuk.com Address: Nandini's Bar & Dining 3 Parvis Road. West Byfleet. Surrey. KT14 6LP 22

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Art Entries

Ma Durga by Rishik Kar (8 yrs Old)

By Arinjay Saha (7 yrs Old)

By Angelica Saha (6 yrs old)

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A special date By Anoushka Bhattacharya 10 yrs old

I am a huge fan of Koalas. They are my favourite animals. I have always dreamt of seeing a real life one. So my parents took me to Scotland to go and see one in Edinburgh Zoo. But instead of seeing just one, I saw three grown up ones and one baby. So make that four! They were absolutely adorable! Meet Alinga! Born in Germany, Alinga is now 6. She is the only female koala there. But the most special thing about her is that she has had a joey -that is what you call a koala baby! When we saw her she was feeding her baby in her pouch where the baby hid, all snug and cosy. Luckily we got to see her paw. Alinga means goddess or sun. According to the zoo keepers she is a very feisty girl.

Moving on to the joey… We guessed that the joey is less than 6 months old because we read the life cycle of the joey which says that if the joey has come out from Mummy’s pouch, then it is 6 months or over and this joey was still in its Mummy’s pouch so had to be 6 Months or less. We would have liked to know the name and gender of the joey, but the zookeepers didn’t know what it looked like!

Fun fact about Koalas: when a baby koala is in their Mummy’s tummy it is the size of a jelly bean!

Meet the first Male This is Yabbra and he was born in in Lisborn zoo in Portugal. He is just over 12 years. That is quite old in koala age because they usually live up to about 18 years. Yabbra has a very active personality because he loves running away from the zookeepers. That is why his name means fugitive. But they love him because he is very friendly. When we saw him, he was doing his favourite thing! – sleeping!

This is Goonaroo. He was born at Duisburg zoo in Germany. He is the same age as me! He is ten. His name means wood duck. He has a very aggressive personality although sometimes he is playful. The zoo keepers thought that he is a much pluckier male than Yabbra. When we saw him, he was eating favourite Eucalyptus leaves. Koalas are endangered species, so when I left the enclosure, in my heart I felt worried. I do not want them to become extinct. We should all try and save them. Thank you.

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Poem by Sri Taposmoy Paul

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BCS Events

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Profile for bcsreading

Sharad Utsav 2017 (Reading Durga Puja) Brochure  

5th Annual festival held at Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading 26th to 30th September 2017.

Sharad Utsav 2017 (Reading Durga Puja) Brochure  

5th Annual festival held at Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading 26th to 30th September 2017.

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