Meet Lily and Nur, two very long time friends now in their 80’s reminiscing about their long lives together in India. Lily, a native of Calcutta formerly married to an Indian diplomat knighted by the British Crown, and Nora, better known as Nur, an American woman having also been married to a knight whose British family had lived in India since the late 1800’s. Both are now widowed and wish to share their memories through a series of letters. A window into a rich historical past from the days of the Raj through all of the change progress and time have brought to India. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to any known persons is merely coincidental. Grab yourself a cup of tea, a marigold for your table and join Lily and Nur.
Namaskar My Dear Lily,
Today I cut the first Marigold that bloomed into the house. I want to see it every morning when I eat breakfast because the minute I see it, I’m reminded of so many lovely things. I think of people who come to visit me from outside India, who can’t believe that here, in our beloved India, marigolds grow to five feet high. Remember the time we were motoring along the highway in New Delhi with the Ambassador and his wife and they were shocked to find children playing inside the clusters of marigolds as if they were playhouses. I’ve had to trim this one down to size for my breakfast table and I must confess it brings back another memory, that Fateful Masala Dosa Night, while the men went to that boring ribbon cutting ceremony and we decided to give the Khitmatghar the night off so that we could just fend for ourselves and talk in private, and you decided to make Masala Dosa and Sambar? That fateful eating escapade remains with me today some 40 years later, and I never fail to laugh at it and to retell it to anyone who will listen. Always makes me laugh .I can still feel the pain of eating all of it in one sitting. I think we tried to leave some of it in case a guest arrived, but really-eating an entire pot of sambar and 3 large dosas each? I remember having to sleep with my stomach on a pillow and you being so sick the next day! It is difficult to be sad when looking at a Marigold. Write when you can.
My Dearest Friend Nur,
How could I forget that evening? I never thought that I could make Dosa, Sambar and Coconut chutney so perfectly. We passed the time chatting and eating until we finished enough Dosas for 6 people! The next day, neither one of us could move from eating so much? We were having so much fun listening to Indian music. As jasmine incense, wafts through the house today, it reminds me of that evening so long ago.
How much fun we always had together, too, like when you came to visit me for a few days in Calcutta. It was the first week of July and the Monsoon rains covered the entire city. We were all stuck indoors but we kept a festive mood. The men played cards and talked about Cricket and bowarchi made us the typical “rainy day dinner” Calcutta Khichuri, and you helped me sort out my closets. Each sari or trinket bringing back lots of shopping trip memories from so many outings.
I hope that you will be able to visit me in time for Cricket season to begin. It’s never the same now without the men, but we can give it a jolly good try, after all, it will be right around our birthdays so we should celebrate.
Authors Khadi Madama and Bela Banerjee introduce you to two octogenarians who remember their lives in India from the days of the Raj until their gleaming golden ages in this light hearted and sometimes bittersweet letter exchange.