The taste of love and care
‘The greatest gift you can give to others, is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance'- Brain Tracy.
Sometimes, to give your loved ones that warm, fuzzy feeling of care and admiration, you might want to do something special for them. When it comes to gifts, giving it a more personalised touch of your own loving hands is going to make it ten times more precious than it would've been.
With Durga Puja knocking on your doors, you have the perfect occasion to express your feelings to the people you love. Giving edible gifts or cooking something would go perfectly with the occasion and also give off the exact emphasis on your thoughts and feelings that you would've hoped for.
When edible gifts are the question…the most common answer is sweets and pastries. People love giving and receiving sweets. But for you to make it count more, it's better homemade than bought. And if you're looking to do something a little non-traditional, you can always stick to cakes, cheesecakes, brownies or homemade cookies.
Goody bags, on the other hand, are a great way to put many little thoughtful gifts into one. Your goody bags can have different kinds of nuts and homemade muffins, or some chocolate coated raisins.
Or you can make goody bags of a completely different genre. Taking into consideration that there will be a lot of cooking done for puja, you can give goody bags with spices such as elachi (cardamoms), darchini (cinnamon), paach foron and so on.
Another fantastic addition to the list would be jam! Jam is one thing that's good to eat at any time of the day. It'll be more pleasing to know that the jam you're using is made and given to you by somebody you really care about! And since guavas are coming into season now, get started on some pear or guava jams that people will lick off their fingers.
As a matter of fact, it can be any fruit you want that'll be nice and colourful enough to bring a smile on anyone's face. Make some good homemade jam and make your gift sweet enough to go with bread and butter.
And if you want to give a present that can be used on the day of the puja, we have a great idea for you. During any occasion, the sweet and tangy taste of aachar works perfectly well with any kind of traditional food.
Aachar is something that was always a thoughtful gift to give. Whether it was from your favourite aunts, grandmothers or your best friend's mother, sending aachar to your home is very common and yet is a gesture that brings a smile to your face just as wide as it was the first time it happened.
For puja this time, make it extraordinary by thinking outside the box and make aachar out of vegetables. Make aachar from carrots, potatoes, onions, chilli and any vegetable that you're comfortable with. It can even be a mixed vegetable aachar. But make sure it's absolutely lip smacking for the one you'll be giving it to.
To sport your jams and aachars you can get decorative jars that can go with the theme of your creation. For jams you can use colourful and fun jars and you can decorate later with some special words. For the aachar, you can add ethnicity by giving them in traditional looking jars made of earthenware. Ribbons, suiting the jars, can make it look like a perfect gift.
Giving somebody a gift, obviously, gives them a sense of being wanted and loved but now you even have the power to make their taste buds go nuts! Think and give differently this puja. Start cooking up some delicious gifts and bring home some smiling memories!
By Naziba Basher
My pride, my joy, my Mamima
When she pronounced my name it was music to my ears. “I told grandma that there was a tall, pretty teacher in our college. She has a disarming smile and always covers her head,” said Ferdous, cousin, recounting how this aunt was lassoed into our family. We needed a sweet young lady to match the darling of our family, our eldest Mama -- a military fellow. Charming, lithe, wonderful Mamima, whom none of us in the extended family will ever forget. Since our Mama was “bel comme le jour”; soft spoken, with perfect manners, the “first boy” in class -- as they put it in Dhaka -- this was some mission for the girls in our family.
When I saw the fairly large photograph, securely locked in my mum's cupboard, as often I did before my scheduled preps for college, I would say to myself “what a goddess my uncle has married!” She had on glasses with heavy frames -- the fashion of the sixties -- but her beauty radiated through them. The sparks of intelligence were obvious in her eyes. She was glamorous as any “contessa”, in her bridal silk fineries. Her warm, personality, with all its “joie de vivre” and lust for life was captured by my fancy-free, teen-aged imagination.
Mami herself once said to me, “The first introduction to my in-laws was to your family in Karachi where your uncle took me. I found warmth and eagerness to take me into your selves. Every new bride -- whether it be in the East or West -- is tremulous about the new family she has entered.” With her flowing pony tail in silk ribbons, modest cotton sari, with its double petticoat (she was so narrow wasted that the sari would slip other wise), she sang in her soft, gentle and melodious voice. This my elder brother taped in a tape recorder of that time. Meanwhile the rest of the eager brothers and sisters, as well as our parents with joy and pride, were astonished at what a miracle we had within us!
When I took them shopping somewhere in the busy metropolis, I found it a great big experience to boss a young couple in their first taste of new life together.
As I grew older and moved on along my way, I found my mami patient, caring and loving. “We are lucky with all our mamis being so caring,” said Ranu.
Mamis, in Bengal, are traditionally not always so understanding and patient. My friends too found this Mamima remarkable. You never felt that you were before a senior army officer's wife, who was herself a popular professor of Physics at Dhaka University.
Whenever I had a problem at the office or at home (mother daughter fights) Mamima was always there to explain things to me patiently and wisely.
Whether it be a Cassanova forcing a kiss on me on the staircase landing, when the electricity failed; or the gorgeous, popular lady boss being a slave driver; my siblings being self-centred -- my Mamima was always there as the Rock of Gibraltar. For decades together I based her ears, moaned and groaned and carried on ad lib. She always made me confident and ready to face the world with a broad smile.
As the years progressed, I got Porna -- my maternal cousin -- Mamimas' third daughter, married to my friend Captain Hemaytuddin Ahmed 's son. On the retrospective, that was something I feel happy as punch about. And was the young groom Albab's family happy to a get a glowing girl like my little cousin? She was certainly a girl who had been blessed with many assets. The bride too could not complain in any possible way.
Mamima , Dr. Ayesha Akhter Munim, was ready to welcome me, shelter me, wipe my tears ,and share my joys, inwardly, without wards -- like a second mother -- if that is possible or probable.
When my idol, my gorgeous goddess, my nonpareil friend, left this earth on 13 November, last year, Mamima's fiends and family lost an angel amongst us.
“Lift her up slowly, take her up with care”…
“ May a flight of angels sing” her “to her sleep.”
We all felt.
By Fayza Haq