Thursday, November 29, 2012
Sudhir and one of the last Cars he owned
I spoke of Sudhir's love of various types of Cars earlier.To continue further it remained his greatest passion till the very end.Both of liked different type--I preferred SUVs and he Sedans.Mumbai Traffic has always been chaotic--of course the earlier memories of that chaotic Traffic seem from another Era--for today even that seems orderly as things have worsened increasingly since then--and are worsening further still!!After the 90s we began getting the models of newer shapes in India and Suzuki Maruti was and still is a much preferred brand.Those days Tata Motors had come out with a huge SUV called The Sierra in the early 90s. We bought one of these--and despite it being a two door it remains one of our favourites still,after the Peugeot 504 and Dhanno .This was the Car we took often on our day long jaunts to Lonavla--most often just Sudhir and me--driving along the rain soaked misty Sahyadri Hills in the Monsoons.Sturdy and strong it made many outstation shifts--and was perhaps the most used Car in our Family for everyone loved it --including my sisters-in-law and all the children and grandchildren there were in our family!!Sudhir would really go mad at the variety offered--by now we had Opel, Honda,Toyota and Nissan along with Hyundai---all needing just a week to roll out of the Showroom--fully signed and delivered.This was a first for India--where we earlier used to wait to be served we were now being wooed with many new perquisites--as Sudhir succintly put it, it really did feel nice!!
Each time we bought a new Car, Sudhir would be loathe to take it on the crowded roads--specially my favourite Shopping areas--for these were the crowded by lanes of Dadar.The problem here was the Hawkers lining both sides of the narrow lane--leaving barely space in between for a even a two wheeler to pass!!Another new problem that has cropped up in the last 10-12 years is the two wheelers.There are so many of these and these are a big problem.People riding on the Two wheelers squeeze themselves in the bare 1-2 feet of space between two rows of Four wheelers--in a hurry to clear the Traffic Signals faster!!This leads to mishaps and also results in many really expensive Cars being scratched pretty badly.Besides it has given rise to a new breed of Drivers who pay no heed to either the Traffic Signals or Pedestrians as well as to their own personal safety.Their throwing caution to the Winds creates situations where a new term like "Road Rage" applies and very often even insignificant altercations can swiftly escalate into a brawl which can at times be fatal!!
Like the "Bawaji" we called him he was very particular about the way his Clothes--read Coats and his Cars were maintained.His Coats had to be pressed just so--folded just so and above all hung on their special hangers and covered with Plastic Covers to protect them from the Dust.Similarly the Cars needed to be spic and span--clean and gleaming always.He used get the exteriors polished regularly to maintain the gleam--and this was why perhaps we were lucky with each and every Car we owned.We loved them and they respected that and loved us back!!He liked keeping the Tank full--claiming that it made for a smoother drive and better maintenance.He hated hearing even the minutest rattle or scraping sound---going to the extent of pulling over by the roadside just to investigate!!It would be so extreme that I would tease him mercilessly over this!!Once in jest I even suggested covering the walls of our Garage with mirrors--I said that whenever it was windy we'd sit in the Car and watch the Wind whipping the trees in our Garden--and pretend we were driving down the open Country roads!!Another suggestion was to hire an open truck,load the Car onto it and then take it for a drive!! Both these suggestions would bring out his beautiful smile in full force--but his pernicketiness wouldn't change even an ioata!!
Today I still maintain the Car he bought me as mine exactly the way he kept his--the tank is always full,it is washed and wiped daily and everything--the servicing and tune-ups are done regularly--it's always maintained in peak condition!!Despite making numerous rounds of Dadar, Matunga as well as Crawford Market areas--which are dreadfully crowded and choked with Traffic, it still gleams and is still scratchless--just the way he liked it.He would have really been proud of me!!
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
My husband Sudhir was a very strong individual--with sharply defined likes and dislikes.While he was very accomodating and obliging on many issues,he could turn to a stubborn mulishness over somethings that irked him--and then come Hell or High water--he just wouldn't budge!!Besides this he was very set in his mind about certain aspects of Life and living--and no one or nothing could shake him from those opinions.His idiosyncrasies were a topic for hilarity among our Family---and mostly he was called a "Bawaaji"--a term of local Mumbaiyya parlance used to describe Indian Parsis.
The Parsis are the descendants of the Zoroastrian Persians who migrated from Persia some 2000 years ago to India--the word Persian got localised into the nomenclature "Parsi".Thanks to our Mumbaikari Roots we have been interacting with this extremely lovable and loving Community--one that can really and truly laugh at itself heartily!!The Parsis are known to use their personal items with extreme care and respect---specially their Vehicles.Even today the advertisement of a Parsi owned Vehicle symbolises an almost new one in tip top condition--used sparingly and with extreme care!!My darling husband was a genuine Car lover--drooling and sighing over the sleekness and good looks of the Foreign brands.Our family owned a Plymouth and a Fiat when I got married but the Plymouth guzzled Petrol (Gas) like there was no tomorrow.Besides this, my brother-in-law Milind was a highly impatient man---he could never be bothered to refill the Gas Tank and as a result of this we'd run dry pretty often--stuck in the middle of a busy road!!It was Sudhir's job to check the Fuel--and thanks to that both of us enjoyed many Moonlit and Starlit nights on the Bombay roads----taking beautiful romantic long drives.That poor Car was badly abused whenever the entire Family took an outing together.The entire Family would be crammed into it--Milind and Nina,Sudhir and I,our sisters-in-law Kunda and Suhas as well as my MIL Atya.The children numbered 6 in total when I got married would be evenly distributed on our laps and one must not forget the stuffed Food Hampers in the Boot either!!These would contain Bottles of fresh Water,Biscuits,Snacks etc. and we'd take plenty of stops along the way---for a pre-ordered Lunch would be waiting for us at our destination!!I still look back on those Outings very fondly---Life was much simpler and we were young--what more did one need?
Those days we had pretty good Indian Brands---very sturdy and built to combat our terrain and our Weather conditions--and our Fiat --Premier Padmini took us on our Vacations along with the Plymouth pretty much without problems.Of course words like "Fuel Pump","Gasket" and "Hose Pipe" became extremely familiar and we got used to chanting our Hindu Hymns each time the effort to climb up the almost vertically steep slopes of the Khandala Ghat near Bombay began but the thrill of driving along the open vista of the Deccan Plateau with rural Maharashtra stretched out invitingly all around us is a memory that I will always cherish.Even today i recall the heat of the Summer Sun beating down on the roof of the Car--the windows rolled down and hot waves of the Wind created by the speed of the Car feeling dry and hot against our faces.The steep barren Peaks of the Sahyadris rose majestically on both sides--many of these crowned with rugged Hill forts.The contrast of the molten Golden heat of the Summer Sunshine pouring down from a pale Blue Summer Sky gilding the rustling green leaves of the Sugarcane planted alongside the Highway contrasting sharply with the starkness of the parched brownish yellow dryness of the Sahyadris is still crystal clear in my mind!!
However the attraction of Foreign Brands was always there and these were only available either through a Government enterprise called STC or second hand.!During his Summer vacation whenever we were in Bombay Sudhir would pore over the Vehicle Ads---noting down the 'Phone numbers and Addresses very seriously and then the two of us would venture forth--Car hunting!!I can never actually recall how many Cars we must have seen in those years--1970--1985 just driving all over town in the gruelling Summer heat to see and then test drive those Cars.There was a British Hillman--which we bought in 1982.A two door Car, this meant that Sayali was caged in the back--something that irked her immensely.She was in the habit of following Sudhir like the proverbial Mary's Little Lamb--and this was a sore point between her and me.She'd be out of the door in a flash--even before Sudhir alighted after parking the Car.Bombay traffic has always scared me and Sayali though extremely intelligent otherwise--turned into a brainless twit who threw caution to the winds in her hurry of not being left behind!!So for me the Hillman was God sent--and for her it was wrongful confinement!!!This little Car became a familiar sight on Bombay roads--my brother-in-law Milind said once in jest that it was even more used than a Taxi--for we rarely stayed home long enough to give a well deserved rest.Our last imported Car was a Peugeot 504--and after that we began buying Indian makes once more--beginning with a Maruti Suzuki which Sayali promptly named "Dhanno" after the Mare in the Indian Epic Western "Sholay"!!!
This was the Car Sayali learnt to drive on when she turned 18 years old--and along with her best friend Laxmi, this threesome took to Bombay roads in a big way.This little Car bowled along manfully on the roads---being subjected to various forms of indignity--like being towed from "No Parking" zones or bumping into other Cars--the Garage in the lane behind our Complex became one of Sayali's best refuges whenever she was in dire straits---they'd patch up the Car pretty well whenever any mishap occured---and this would escape Sudhir's Eagle eye for he would drive home after dark from Court and Office!!This reminds me of an incident that took place a year or so after she began driving.Sayali had some late Lectures that day and Sudhir had an early hearing.On reaching his car he noticed it had a punctured tyre.Thanks to this he decided to take Dhanno instead and after asking Sayali to get the puncture repaired he took off.He reached the Courts on time and everything was okay till he began his return home.Midway Dhanno stopped thanks to lack of Petrol--and just wouldn't budge an inch!!Exasperated he got some bystanders to help him push Dhanno to a Petrol Pump around the corner from where he was,filled the Gas tank to the brim and drove home--irritated and angry!!Sayali in the meantime had changed the punctured tyre but had not bothered to repair the Stepney. That night after Sudhir began his irritated spiel about how Dhanno was full of rattles,messy and smelt of Food besides not being filled up as and when needed despite Petrol Money being dished out regularly and so on and so forth,Sayali waited for him to wind down finally and then blithely said "Daddy by the way--you have to get that punctured tyre repaired and also--the Petrol tank in your Car needs to be filled too!!"
Monday, November 19, 2012
A Love Story yes--but a M & B story I don't know!!!One of my very dear Spark friends Cheri left a remark about that on the Poem I wrote for Sudhir in my last Blog.This remark set my mind off the Memory Trail and while I'll admit that we were true Soulmates--well matched despite being as alike as Chalk and Cheese in quite a few aspects of our personalities,we still had some healthy arguments about our conflicting opinions--which I must admit he won 80% of the time thanks to his logical mind!!We agreed to disagree on many minor aspects of living together---some of my idiosycrasies irritated him and his--me.
We belong to a family that largely is extremely demonstrative but highly complexed. Most of us have a penchant for pondering over certain remarks that upset us--and then trying out various permutations and combinations to give different meanings that can be attributed to these.I am not that affected by this---for me my way of dealing is ignoring unpleasantness and pushing it under the Carpet---for mulling over it another day--which fortunately never comes!!Sudhir would brood over it and that would affect his mood adversely for the next few days.Both of us after living together in such close proximity imbibed some parts from each other's characters.His brooding lessened while I began looking for deeper meanings in certain barbed remarks!!Together as a couple we grew closer---and while we each tolerated each other's foibles we were not blind to each other's faults.Perhaps the secret of our closeness was the fact that we accepted that each of us had feet of Clay--and being human were extremely fallible.My Nanny's advice to me when I came to Bombay to marry Sudhir in 1970 was---"Love him as a whole--accept him with all his faults and you will always be happy!!"How very right she was and how glad I am that I took her advice to heart and acted on it.Saying this doesn't detract from the way Sudhir handled me---he was always indulgent and very giving of himself--not just his love and understanding but also of his time.Despite being part of a very close knit joint Family we still managed a lot of "us" time in the first few years of our life together.After that we shifted into our own home and though the family closeness continued we really began to understand each other more fully.One can say that our marriage on a one is to one basis actually started in 1975--5 years after we got married.For here it was just the 4 of us--the girls very young then--so the real "us" and getting to really know each meant that the Gloves so to speak came off with a vengeance!!
One thing that never ever faltered in all these years was our complete Commitment to each other.We were together forever and literally "Till Death do us Part" and we trusted each other implicitly.Though both of us were first cousins he and I were very different as individuals.Like the British, I believed in "innocent until proved guilty" and he like the Greeks, believed in "guilty until proved innocent"!!I viewed Life through Rose coloured Spectacles--he saw even the minutest blemish through the magnifying Glass of his suspicious eyes!!I remember an incident on the way to Shimla once.We were on our Honeymoon and were aboard this Bus enroute to Shimla. The seats next to us were taken by another Newly wed couple--also on their Honeymoon.During the 6 hour journey the wife and I got friendly and gradually the new husband joined the conversation too.It turned out that the bride was from Bombay while the Groom belonged to Chandigarh--exactly the opposite of us!!That did it--the Bride began questioning me about my parents and where we lived in Chandigarh and the same about our address in Bombay too--maybe she just wanted to establish some type of familiarity into her new Life!!As I opened my mouth to answer Sudhir pinched me hard on my arm and smoothly changed the topic.The conversation veered onto more innoccous topics!!There however was more in store for us in Shimla.Our reservations had been made at the Oberoi Clark's which was/is built onto a spur of a ridge and boasts beautiful views of the mountains surrounding it.Besides back in the 1970s it was a Shimla which was still extremely picturesque,thickly wooded and where the only way to get around was mostly on foot.On reaching the Bus Stand by the time we alighted,it had become pretty dark since the days had become shorter in late October.We hired a "Coolie" or a person to carry our Baggage as far as the Hotel and after deciding his remuneration set off uphill to our destination.We kept trudging uphill for about 10 minutes but still no Hotel in sight--this made Sudhir a bit wary and he questioned the Coolie about how far we were from the Hotel.The reply was that we were about 5 minutes short.After trudging on for another 10 minutes in silence behind the Coolie--still no Hotel in sight!!Now Sudhir was seriously worried as to the Coolie's intentions and asked me in Marathi to hang on to my Purse--for if we needed to take flight we should atleast have our Money with us!!This amused me and seeing me smiling at this infuriated him.Luckily by trudging further for about 10 minutes more got us to our Hotel and having paid off the Coolie Sudhir heaved a sigh of relief!!This was however short lived--for he then very curtly,logically and sarcastically let me know exactly what he thought of my naivete and trusting nature--unfortunately an opinion that he held till the very last.Today our daughters treat me the same way--according to them I was born just yesterday in this big, bad World!!
We have travelled a lot to the North--my Umbilical Cord is tied to my beloved Mountains and the North appealed to Sudhir too--as a result there were certain precautions we fell into the habit of taking on the way.We would always travel by Trains as both Sudhir and I were very fond of Train travel since our early childhood.Both of us would sit by the windows by the lower berths on either side of the Compartment, watching the changing contours of India.We also used dream about getting down on an impulse at one of those sleepy little Stations in the Interiors and just stay there for a few days.Unfortunately we never got round to doing it--and nor did we take the prolonged Train Journey we planned when the Konkan Railway opened it's doors to the public.The idea was to travel from Mumbai to Kanya Kumari through the steep,picturesque Western Ghats of India. From Kanya Kumari or Cape Comorin as the British called it, we were to travel as far North as the last Station in Jammu-- and then travel back to Mumbai via an Eastern route.This way we would have spent about a Week on the Train, travelling all the while through the length and breadth of India--today it is just another unfulfilled Dream!!We revelled in the various sights and smells of our Country----somehow these journeys helped us to bond more strongly with each other as well as our Roots--and we both looked forward to these Journeys.In fact we were so bad that we'd take off on an impulse!!Once we went to Bombay Central Station to drop off some friends who were going on Vacation.We returned home with reserved Tickets to New Delhi--the sights and smells of the Station induced us to take off a Week later!!
Those days there were Dacoits who would attack the Trains enroute--specially in the region of Madhya Pradesh--the very heart of India.This region has a topography which in parts resembles the Lunar Landscape.There are bare hardened Sand Dunes popularly known as the "Bihad" in local parlance.This is a favourite haunt of Bandits or "Dacaits" as they are commonly called.These Bihads are a honeycomb of natural passages so deviously interlinked that only a person who has grown up or lived among them can navigate these.It was for this patch on the way that we'd prepare ourselves for our travels. Atya used to laugh at the stuff my Purse contained.Firstly it was actually not really a Purse but a huge Bag--it was equipped with primarily a sharp instrument like a razor sharp pair of heavy Iron Scissors.Besides this, there were small containers of Red Chilli and Black Pepper Powders--ostensibly for Seasoning bland Food--the prime intention was to use these as Defence Mechanisms.If anyone knocked on the door of our Compartment past midnight,we'd loosen the caps on these containers and then gingerly open the door--prepared to fling the Powders into the eyes and nose of the Intruders if needed.Not just that,the pair of Scissors also would be hidden by either Sudhir or me behind our backs--ready to use in self defence if need be!!Luckily we never needed to use any of these--but these gave Atya a reason to christen my Bag with a name that stuck like Glue--"Ladhdoo"!!!In Marathi that means heavy and unwieldy--and so it was--hence no wonder I developed a wrestler's muscles in my upper arms thanks to carrying it around!!
Our last few years were spent flying abroad to the USA and in the last two years to UK as well---but those Train Journeys always will hold a very special place in our-sorry only in my heart now.Those years have left behind a huge Treasure of Memories--of Sights,Sounds,Smells and Impressions that even a tiny bit of detail can send me on to a Journey into the Past.We were lucky that we married each other---for as I used to say to Sudhir after each quarrel we had--"God decided that the two of us deserved only each other and no better--so here we are--together!!Better make the most of this--for you're stuck with me forever!!" It always made him smile--no matter how angry he was with me!!!!
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Kattik,Sudhir and I New York 2009
My Farewell Ode To Sudhir
Love,Passion and a Life well lived together in full Measure
Crystalised Precious Moments turning into invaluable Treasure
Hoarded,locked away safely in secret nooks and crannies of the Mind
A beautiful Collection of priceless Jewels that Time and Life have left behind
These wipe my Tears,soothe my Pain and assuage my Grief as I mourn
Offering truly great Support and Consolation to me each time I feel alone
We walked dreamily through the years of Beautiful Understanding and Togetherness
Today I ache so much for You---your Warmth,your Touch and your Tenderness
I miss the steady feather soft,gentle caress of your breath on my cheek
I miss the pleasure of just cuddling up to you--either wide awake or when asleep
I miss the sound of your lyrically Musical voice singing in our Home
The beautiful cadences and nuances of it adding to my Comfort Zone
Our never ending, meandering Conversations were an integral part of our married Life
We were one another's Best Friends, Confidants besides Lovers and Husband and Wife
We'd grown together like a Pair of Identical Twins melding seamlessly into One
Imbibing each other's Eccentricities and Idiosycrasies but also retaining our own
I miss the funny, teasing Camaraderie and deep Companionship that together we shared
I miss those indulgent ,subtly unobtrusive ways you had of showing how much you cared
You gave my Life a sense of definite Purpose and a profoundly deeper Meaning to being Me
You were the Wind beneath my Wings making me very Complete,Confident and Carefree
Your Aura surrounded me with a Rightness,giving me a very special cherished Feel
Trustingly facing the unknown Future with You and your Love being my protective Shield
All through these years that passed I have followed,treading in your footprints in the Sands
Leaving everything I held dear--Love,Trust and my entire Life in your very capable hands
Suddenly though in the blink of an Eye Life as I knew it was finished,over, completely gone
As I stood frozen,numbed, shell shocked---my Life lying in fragments around me--all alone
The Life I had known had evaporated in a heartbeat like Dew Drops under a Summer Sun
A dark,lonely, empty Path unfolded before me as my Journey through Life alone had begun
Today I stand distressed, bewildered and completely bereft without You to cling to
Groping through the confusing Mists of Indecision and Uncertainity of what to do
I understand and acknowledge that I have still to go on and also find a way to survive
But without You by my side--it's just Survival and I'm not actually, really alive!!!
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