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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Today my Fish Seller Asha got me fresh Sardines----after ages I got this Fish!!!We're lucky to have these women who come to the doorsteps to sell us fresh Fish---the sight of these reminded me of my Jaya---who passed away 7 years ago.
Jaya was a Fish seller---she and I first met in 1975---she was referred to me by Mami,my Aunt(my Bal Mama's wife)who lived nearby.Since I grew up in Chandigarh I was totally ignorant about buying fresh Fish---our daily staple.I therefore needed a person who'd give me good Fish---value for Money!!This lady was the most popular Fish Seller in the area---nobody could match the quality and freshness of her Fish.My Sayali was just 8 months old then---and adored Fish!!As the days,months and years passed Jaya became the mainstay of my household----except Mondays she'd visit daily---both my daughters loved her and gave her star treatment whenever they were around!!!We'd indulge in chat sessions while she cut and cleaned the Fish--- and she'd pass on the latest gossip of the region---she knew everyone and was a beloved visitor to all Fish eating homes in our area!!!
The moment she rang the bell my two cats---Lotta and Sayali would first seat her on a "PAAT" or wooden stool.This would be followed by a glass of Water which would be followed by a cup of Tea or Coffee---and then the serious business of buying Fish would begin.Both the girls would squat down and peer into Jaya's "Paati" or basket----she carried so many varieties on her head---I called her"Iron Neck'!!!Live Crabs,Prawns(Shrimps), Clams, King Fish,Pomfret,Flying Fish,Sword Fish,Baby Sharks---she was like a Super Market--endless choices!!!!Besides this she'd set aside stuff ordered by her regulars in a basket that she carried in her hands---the energy and strength she possessed was great.She was a large fat lady---not very tall--with a very sweet and loving face,demeanor and disposition---I never saw her lose her temper ever in all the years I knew her with anyone--ever!!!
She introduced me to many different species of Fish and also taught me various methods of cooking these----she was a master in various culinary styles!!She gave me lots of Recipes for cooking Fish----Konkani,Goan,Mangalorean---her suggestions were truly fantastic----all these were the styles used by her many customers!!Jaya was an Encyclopedia on Fish---which was good for women after Childbirth,during Preganancy,for an upset stomach---many pieces of valuable information were stored in that wise head!!!
She became one of my very dear friends---I'd miss her if she didn't come.She was so involved in my daughters--specially when Lotta got married she came to bless her at the Wedding!!She was a part of my daily life--someone on whom I had become totally dependant---not just for Fish---we had become very close friends.She had become an indivisible part of my Life.
Then disaster struck---she found out that she was a heavy Diabetic with very High Blood Pressure---she was asked to cut down her activities to the minimum---we were all upset to hear this.Her two daughters--Mangal and Kalpana began accompanying her---till she got an injury on her foot during the Monsoons.That injury worsened---leading to amputation of her foot and finally to her death within a year.
These days her daughter Kalpana sometimes comes with Fish---though extremely good the quality does not match her mother's---nor does she have the variety.I have learnt to buy Fish from the Fish Market---following tips taught to me by Jaya---and have found a young lady so like her that a session with Sujata does me good!!!
Jaya was Jaya---unique in her way that no one can be totally like her---even her own daughters can't match up!!!I miss her tremendously----she is an integral part of my past!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EACHDAYAGIFT 1/28/2010 11:37AM

    You had me laughing out loud with the "iron neck" nickname and likening your daughters to two cats! I think I will suggest looking for a good Indian restaurant to go to with my husband, though I guess they'll be limited to what produce is available in the U.S. Reading about your life makes me realize that I would be a disgrace in your culture. I hate cooking and don't even make much effort these days! (I'm kind of a domestic disgrace even in my own culture!) I try to make up for it by being pleasant and understanding (LOL... nice try!)

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SAASHA17 1/27/2010 4:04PM

    yum pomfret..komal im coming over for it...hehe...do u know how to cook fish heads in sesame oil..OMG i am drooling...:)...

I can imagine ur connection with jaya..hope wherever she is, she is a blessed soul....

take care


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ZANNACHAN 1/27/2010 3:19PM

    What awesome memories! She sounds like a really lovely lady. I can't imagine having fresh fish show up at your door like that. I don't even remember door to door milkmen, really, though I know a friend of mine's family growing up still had milk, orange juice, and a few veggies regularly delivered. But by then it was definitely an almost dead practice.

Enjoy your fish!

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My India

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Today is the 26th.January---India's 60th.Republic Day.Today India became a democratic Republic---one of the largest Democracies of the World.
I love watching the Republic Day Celebrations telecast live from the Raj Path,New Delhi.The entire proceedings are an annual high for me----my date with the Republic Of India!!!
My favourite Icons are the Rani of Jhansi in 1857---the first War of Indepence.Then Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose---both at par with each other.The Sardar converted a diverse and divided India of Princes into the Union Of India singlehanded and Netaji raised the "Azad Hind Sena" from the Indian POWs in Japanese camps.His motto was that all was fair in War and the enemy of one's enemy was one's friend!!!His battle cry was"Tum mujhey Khoon do--Main tumhein Azaadi doonga!!" translated it means "give me your blood and I will give you freedom!!!"He reached Kohima when Japan fell--otherwise maybe we'd have achieved our goal in 1945 and our History might have been different!!!
I was born in 1953---six years after the Independence of India---the mood then was on a high---we were going to build a new India!!!This attitude bred a deep and lasting love for our beloved country in our hearts---the Independence of Goa in 1960 from Portugal just cemented our faith further.Those were days very different from today---we were working towards a goal and preserving our Self-Respect and Integrity while doing that.We progressed towards being self sufficient in fulfilling our needs slowly but surely and became confident as a Nation in the process.
I salute all those who sacrificed their Todays for our Tomorrows---all those heroic and dedicated souls who fought for our freedom---and those brave young Soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces who continue to protect our borders with their lives even today---I weep when widows and parents accept medals on behalf of their people---cold comfort----the loneliness in their lives is a void NO number of grateful people can ever fill!!!
The day begins with loudspeakers blaring out beautiful Patriotic Songs---I feel great when I count the number of the lyrics of those Songs I still remember----memory is great thing.My favourite songs are "Vandey Matram" and "Saarey Jahaansey Achha"---the first a ballad dedicated to the Mother the second to it's people.My favourite Verse is in the second song which I reproduce below
"Mazhab nahin sikhaataa
Aapas mein bair rakhana
Hindi hain hum,Hindi hain hum
Watan hai Hindostan hamaara!!!
Saarey Jahaansey Achha
Hindostan hamaara".
Translated from the original Urdu it means that "No Religion preaches Hatred---we are all Indians and our Country is India---the best Country in the World!!"Written by the Urdu poet Allana Iqbal in the 1930s it encapsulates what we all feel---we are one people with one aim in our hearts---to go forward and progress to becoming the best in the World!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SONPARI1 1/27/2010 4:01AM

    Happy Republic DAy!

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NATTIEGAL82 1/27/2010 3:56AM

    Hi Komal - watching the wife receive the models always brings a tear to the eye. I was so moved by the image of the wife (also in the army) receiving the medal for her husband! Jai Hind!

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ATMANI 1/26/2010 4:26PM

    Thank you for your blog. Yes, mera Bharat mahan!

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ZANNACHAN 1/26/2010 12:20PM

    Happy Republic Day!

"No Religion preaches Hatred"--a good thing to remember, and all too applicable in the current political and religious climate, unfortunately. Thanks for sharing!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

I consider myself to be truly blessed---I have so many friends both old and new -----some of them have become my Soul Mates----but all are very near and dear to my heart!!!
My childhood friend Anita and I have retained our contact---earlier it used to be long winded letters---now by e-mail---we've kept very much in touch.Her son too is presently based in Mumbai---and that helps us to meet as well---though the last two times she was down here we couldn't meet---due to certain unavoidable circumstances.However it is a blessing that the Computer keeps both of us posted about the other!!
When I shifted here I was just 21 and very raw---I had only the theoretical Knowledge of running a home.Here I made new friends who helped me to get where I am today----all being older and more experienced than me----gave me lessons on running a household.Pushpa was from the same area I came from and her husband was a childhood friend of Sudhir's.Our children were also of the same age and our Wedding Anniversaries fall with the difference of a day---they got married on the 10th.October and we did on the 11th.October----venue was the same and so was the year---1970!!!Both Pushpa and I met and got acquainted here and our friendship developed into the strong bond that we share today.Both of us are artistically inclined--both of us love reading Books--she in fact has an enviable range of Books in her Library----I only have to call---I get all the titles I want to read home delivered!!!Pushpa and I are soulmates---we communicate in our silences too---Mutual Understanding is the result of being on the same wavelength!!!
The second very dear friend I made is Vahini---Kirti----in Marathi the brother's wife is called "Vahini".She too is 15years older than me and she was the one who taught me the basics of Housekeeping.We'd go Vegetable shopping to the market near our home---I'd get excited by the fresh Vegetables on sale and just buy whatever I wanted---I didn't know how to bargain and bargaining was the best way to earn the Vegetable Vendors respect those days!!Vahini taught me to keep my mouth shut while she haggled over the prices---I'd just stand by and point out whatever I wanted---she ensured that I got it for a fraction of the asking price!!!Her in-laws---Aai and Bandhu treated me like a daughter and today she is more my sister-in-law than a friend----her grandchildren think of me as their Grand-Aunt and her husband--Dada---treats both Pushpa and me like two additional sisters.
The third angle of this friendship was Jacob Aunty---whom I called "Mallika-E-Aaliya".Just 2 years older than Vahini she'd keep us all in order---I being the youngest bore the brunt of being treated like a favourite child---Aunty would constantly tell us the secrets of keeping a happy home.Aunty,Vahini and I met daily----Pushpa would join us on the off days as she was working---but those days were truly beautiful.Both Aunty and Vahini taught me so many things and though I learnt a few things much to Aunty's dismay I didn't conform as much as she wanted me to!!!Today she is no more---but the memories of her Mughalai food---she was a fantastic cook---linger on even today.
We'd discuss so many things---Religion,cooking,Vahini and I would make dresses for our daughters,we'd go shopping for Saries during the Festivals and buy similar matching stuff.Much to Kavita's(Vahini's oldest) embarassment---we'd eat seasoned fresh cut Guavas while walking o the streets---oh those days were so full of innocent and wholesome FUN!!!
Pushpa,Vahini and I today meet often but not daily these days---we've all grown older and various physical problems have surfaced---health constraints where both Pushpa and I are concerned-------but when we do it is as if the years in between vanish and we are back to being what we were---the old carefree days get resurrected again!!!
Then there are my new friends---I'd say 'Pen Friends' because that is how we correspond--via e-mail--but here too the wavelenghts have just gelled----Nita,Meera,Ann and Zanna---near about the same age but so far away----the distances just fade away when we communicate with each other. The similarities are surprisng in our basic natures---truly amazing!!!If I was asked what I considered to be the most precious gift of all after my Family----I'd say my beautiful circle of friends---they are there for me and I hope The Almighty continues to bless me with many more!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PAM1864 1/25/2010 1:38PM

    You are really lucky to have so many friends. I couldn't keep in touch with my college friends. But I made new friends along the way. I too have three lovely sis-in-laws, they live in Pune.
It's indeed a blessing to have real friends. emoticon

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ATMANI 1/25/2010 12:50PM

    Indeed, it's a great blessing to have friends. emoticon

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ZANNACHAN 1/25/2010 11:39AM

    Yes, having good friends is definitely a blessing! And it sounds like your life has been rich in good friends.

I consider myself lucky in my friends, and am very grateful to live in an age of the internet--it has helped so much, not only in staying in touch with my friends but my family too, especially when I was living or traveling in foreign countries and regular mail was very expensive and phone calls even more so. Because of the internet, I have stayed in contact with not only friends from my childhood, but friends living all over the world.

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FERGSGIRL2 1/25/2010 4:05AM

    It's a real blessing to have real friends!

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

The daily Healthy Reflections mail got me thinking----what really does give Happiness???I then decided to list the things I love----things I can't live without---and so here goes guys!!!
The best thing about Sudhir is his beautiful smile---I love the way his deep brown eyes light up when he smiles---he still looks like a young boy and my heart still misses a beat!!!
The memory of the first glimpse of my grand-Daughter and my daughters---it still makes my heart swell with emotion.The warm baby breath,their toothless and later toothy smiles,the warm scent of their bodies---all is hoarded away to view at leisure---and whenever I'm feeling down---these act as instant pick-me-ups for me!!!
A call from my Grand-daughter just to talk to me---just listening to that happy little voice burbling away just makes my day---her late evening is my early morning in India!!!
The call of the Cuckoo in the pre-dawn of early Spring makes my heart miss a beat---it is so beautiful!!!I survived my Chemotherapy with a smile on my face thanks to that melodious companionship---it seemed to me that the bird just called to give me company!!!
Sunrises and Sunsets are so special.Sunsets also change according to weather---Winter Sunsets are different from the Summer ones.The best Sunrises are those when one awakes early and watches the play of Light slowly transforming the darkness on the horizon.
The darkening of the Sky just before the first clap of Thunder,the blinding flash of Lightning and the gusty Winds signalling the onset of the Monsoons----the dust scented cool gusts carry a wonderful magic---it's fun to be there just to experience it!!!
The first drops of Rain falling on the thirsty parched Earth and the awesome scent of the Earth---everything looks rejuvenated---fresh,green and ALIVE!!!The welcome coolness in the Air and the ambience in the clean and green Garden---just lovely!!
I love scents---I'm something of a scent fanatic---my nose is my best companion---I'd love to smell the scented Air of Kshmir Valley again.The beauty of the Valley is legendary no doubt but the first thing that I first noticed was the scented Atmosphere.There was a heady scent of Crocus,Iris,Narcissus,Roses and many types of Jasmine scenting the roads---these grew wild by the roadside.Also the Air in the Himalayan Mountains and Foot Hills feels different and has a smell so unique it cannot be duplicated---ever!!!
Lastly the smell of Food---yuuuuummmm---I live to eat--that's what landed me in this mess in the first place---but I still find Food hard to resist.The smells of Pan-Asian food,Barbecues and Bacon sizzling in the frying pan----I think those are the best smells in the whole wide World!!!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SAASHA17 1/25/2010 4:04PM

    U are a poet Komal...I love babies:)

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ZANNACHAN 1/25/2010 4:01PM

    Awesome post--thank you for sharing! You're writing is so vivid.

I too love scents; one thing I regret is that a lifetime of allergies means I actually have a real poor sense of smell. :( But the scents I can smell--like the patchouli plant in my living room--I love.

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ATMANI 1/25/2010 12:53PM

    emoticon As always, you capture vivid details that are easy to picture!

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SONPARI1 1/25/2010 2:37AM

    Nicely put Komal, the vivid descriptions make an interesting read as always emoticon

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FCASTELO 1/24/2010 6:27AM


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Old Movies!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My favourite passtime is watching old movies---both Bollywood and Hollywood---there are some that I can watch any number of times!!!The range is extensive and the best way to connect with the past----watch these old Movies!!!
Musicals like "My Fair Lady","The Sound Of Music" , "Mary Poppins","Singing in the Rain","Fiddler on the Roof" are among those I love---the songs are to die for!!!There are so many more but these are closer to my heart----I have seen these so often that certain dialogues are imprinted on my mind!!I saw these movies again with my children and got a fresh perspective and enjoyed them even more as an adult.Other movies like"Roman Holiday","Cleopatra",Movies based on the Second World War and all of the Alfred Hitchcock thrillers---with the exception of "Psycho"---even today are on my "must see" list!!!
Both my daughters sing very well---they take after their father---I just croak(not that it keeps me quiet!!!).Their repertoire included many beautiful songs but my personal favourites were "Feed the Birds"from "Mary Poppins" and "Maria" from the "Sound of Music"----the way the two of them had blended their voices together was a treat for the ears!!!
"Dr. Zhivago and Lara's Theme"were among the other favourites----I have made so many Audio Cassettes of these to be played at bedtime---great way to drift asleep---the soft strains of the Music act as lullabies!!!I'm now on the lookout for someone to convert these to CDs----maybe I'll teach myself to do it!!!
Bollywood is another thing.I love the old Movies with beautiful Music---all our films are musicals---again have sooooo many Cassettes----to watch I prefer the later films---happy themes and happy endings!!!Serious movies are a bit taxing----big critical acclaim---but Life's a bore anyway---one doesn't need to be reminded just how much!!!Dev Anand,Shammi Kapoor,Shashi Kapoor movies are a blend of Humour,Passion and Music---perfect way to unwind!!!Our film Music is extensive ------in myriad different moods---it can make make you laugh,cry,be pensive or nostalgic---blessed with the great vocals of legendary Singers---I think India is truly blessed!!!Regional films---in my case---Marathi Movies also are rich in their artistic content.Old films made by stalwarts like V.Shantaram and Raja Paranjapey are beautiful to watch.They too were blessed with great Music by Sudhir Phadkey,Srinivaas Khaley,Vasant Desai,Vasant Prabhu,Vasant Pawar,Ram Kadam to name a few and the simple and beautiful poetry of the lyrics---written by G.D.Madgulkar,Shanta Shelkey,Jagdish Khebudkar,Aarti Prabhu to name a handful----are today revered as timeless classics!!!Today we are again acquiring a new edge by the new movies being made---depicting the vagaries of Life as it is---backed by a fantastic new generation of Actors,Directors,Writers and Musical prodigies---Singers and Composers!!One could call this a Renaissance of the Marathi Theatre and Films---with a bang!!
Technology ia a great thing---it preserves our Heritage and our memories---giving our future generation an insight into how the Past progressed into the Present and further into the Future.The service it provides in helping us to de-stress is unmatched by any other method of relaxation.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NATTIEGAL82 1/27/2010 4:08AM

    She climbs the tree and scraps a knee..her dress has got a tear...she waltzes on her way to mass and whistles on the stair...i think i actually might know the entire verse...In fact i just might know all the words of all the songs in Sound of Music..i think i have watched it a million times!

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SAASHA17 1/25/2010 6:15PM

    oh man....i remember all those movies...my dad sings well and i grew up listening to talat mehmood and sehgal and shamshad begum...I love to hum along to talat...miss those songs now...the music one hears now is well not music....hehe..thanks for the blog...makes me go back to the days when me and my family wud play antakshari till 5am and wud have to sign only songs before 1980:)...

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ZANNACHAN 1/25/2010 4:06PM

    Hehe... you listed a lot of my old favorites--especially the musicals! I grew up with them, watching movies like Sound of Music and My fair Lady with my family--lots of good memories there. I've only seen a couple of Bollywood films but I enjoyed them a lot, too--especially the music. I love the music. In fact, I have a couple of Bollywood dance-cardio dvds because I enjoy both the music and the dancing, though I'm a terrible dancer. It's still fun *grin*

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ATMANI 1/24/2010 7:15AM

    Agreed! emoticon

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