Friday, February 16, 2007

At Salt Lake

Arrival at Salt Lake
Shami's parents' apartment is in an area called Salt Lake. It evidently used to be a quiet suburb on the edge of Kolkata, but has now become much busier with the sprawl and growth of the city.

To welcome us, Shami's cousin Chumki had decorated the stairs and landing of the apartment with "alpona," designs painted with rice flour. We were greeted at the door by Shami's mother, aunts and cousins, where they ritually welcomed me to the family home for the first time.

FamilyChumki, Meghan, Kaki
Pictures: Us with Shami's parents, and me with Chumki and her mother (our Kaki, see below). Chumki gave me a pretty silver necklace.

Uttara and Tuku arrive
Later that day Kaki helped me get dressed in beautiful red sari that she had given me, along with some lovely silver jewelry from Mashimoni. When Shouri arrived with Uttara, it was my turn to help welcome the new bride to the family home.

With Shami's mother Sumitra (Maini), and her three sisters. No, I'm not wearing heels!

Four sisters and Bouma
From left to right: Lalmashi, Maini, Mashimoni, Meghan, Bhalomashi.

In Bengali, your mother's sister is your "Mashi". Your father's sister is your "Pishi". Your father's brother's wife is your "Kaki" or your "Jethi", depending on whether it is an older or younger brother... it goes on and on, and can be very confusing to a newcomer!

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