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Travel Nostalgia

Friday, December 11, 2009

Travel is something I really love--specially by train.I started travelling aged 2 months when my parents took me from Bombay(now Mumbai)to Ambala,40 miles from Chandigarh.After that we were regulars on the trains between these two places.One of the perquisites my father enjoyed as a Government Servant was a concession on the First Class fare by the the Government.
We travelled First Class in bogies that had stuffed Horsehair Sofas and Berths.These Bogies also had adjoining bathrooms.In the Summer we'd order huge blocks of Ice placed under the fans overhead to cool the bogie.
How I loved watching my country pass by with the language and accents changing every 40-50 miles!!!Rudyard Kipling's words about the "hot and dusty plains of India"would give way to the sandy expanses populated by Kikar trees of Rajasthan and later the rugged Vindhyachal Mountains dividing India into North and South.From there to the fertile land of Gujerat and the beauty of coastal Maharashtra---a visual feast for the eyes!!!
This beautiful and enchanting countryside kept me awake at night---specially moonlit nights.I loved reading the names of different Stations as they passed by.The script on the signboards too changed and it was a fascinating game I played with myself---I'd try to read the sign boards!!!
Later the trains became Air-Conditioned and the dust and smoke was just a sight through a thick glass pane---removed from being an experience any more.I was half sorry half happy at this---this was more comfortable but sealed the scents and sounds away from me!!
Food was an integral part of train travel.Those days some trains had Dining Cars and even today I can recall the taste of those spicy Omelettes,Fried Fish with Tartar Sauce as well as the wonderful Soups and other delicacies served by staff clad in starched white uniforms and red turbans----today you get to see this type of comfort on the various plush 'Palace On Wheels' upper echelon trains which are gaining a clientele and making a name for themselves.
For those trains that had no Dining Cars, Food used to be ordered in advance from earlier Stations and was picked up at various Stations at meal times and served piping hot on good China with excellent Cutlery.It was all so magical--the rhythmic clackety-clack of the wheels,the dimly lit tiny Stations that flashed by and the Food on Stations where the Train halted---local food served piping hot through the windows----yummmmmmmmmmy!!!

After I married Sudhir we both travelled a lot even after my parents moved away to Mauritius.The First Class by now was air conditioned and the Food was served in our compartments and the staff wore blue uniforms----but the Magic was still there!!!
Both of us love train travel and would sit on our respective window berths and gazing longingly at tiny Stations that we passed.We'd discuss visting little known Stations and finding out what life was like there.Romantic dreams--ideas but very appealing!! Our daughters preferred the upper berths and their books----how unromantic can one be???
Today it is Air travel which is preferred due to the convenience of covering larger distances in shorter periods of Time.Even today both of us gaze longingly at the Mumbai Central Station each time we pass it---so many things we didn't do!!We never got down--totally unplanned at some tiny Station to explore---we never travelled without any pre- planning and many more.
Now there is only one route I want to travel with Sudhir---on The Konkan Rail--through the majestically rugged and steep Western Ghats of India---from Mumbai right upto Kochi in Kerala and store all those beautiful sights in the album in my memory to view and savour at leisure!!!Just a round trip to Kochi and back---wonder when that'll be????

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REKHAKAKR 12/13/2009 11:14PM

    One more Lovely blog Komal . you are really a gifted writer your words are creating live image of those beautiful memories which you are sharing with all of us here.even i love that nostalgia of yesteryears train travels (being a Faujis wife) had traveled a lot on trains . it has its own charm which i dont find on the flights today but it one is doing it coz its convenient... emoticon

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NITAINMN 12/12/2009 11:36PM

    Ditto from me too...what great way to express yourself. You must write a book! I hear there are movie makers looking for stories from Indians. It will be a nice positive effect to life in India after slumdog millionaire!!!! hehehehe:O) Have you traveled by train in the US? Amtrack is great and the scenic routes can be fantastic - especially from the midwest to the West coast and in Alaska, etc.

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SONPARI1 12/12/2009 12:06AM

    Lovely blog, thanks for sharing. Its such memories that keep us going @ all times. Have a beautiful weekend.

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RAGGARWALAX 12/11/2009 2:00PM

    Komal - it is really is a joy to read your blogs ..u really need to think about writing as a career :-) Your words conjure up the images in my head and I feel like I was right there with you!

Thanks for the trip emoticon


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SAASHA17 12/11/2009 11:42AM


ur blogs are amazing...and i can visualise everything..and ur trips with ur parents is so much of what i experienced with mine..My dad loves to travel and we would go to all these little places....ofcours my travel was more by boat and cars...

ur blog reminds of one such trip where we explored all the little islands around ernakulam, Kerala...Hmmm...was that some experience..I hear ya about the books and video game generation now:)....but then travel hasnt been same now...when i was a kid i wud love sitting in the front seat of the car with my dad driving and wud keep my head out and smell the sights:)..

and it felt gud to do that again last year when my parents were visiting and I was so proud to take my dad around in my little car....I just wish this time I get to spend more time with him:)....

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RITZY60 12/11/2009 10:53AM

  Thanks Komal, this brings back such vivid memories or all the happy times we had as kids. emoticon

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ATMANI 12/11/2009 7:52AM

Your blogs are such a pleasure to read. I wish my pen captured such sweet memories too.

I love travelling by train too. Even today, whenever I visit India, I make it a point to travel by train. My last train travel was from Mumbai to Mangalore. I can relate very well to the beautiful sights and places to explore that seem to be more of a mind travel than reality!

Thanks for sharing!

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Daddy's Girls!!!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

When we had our daughters I didn't want to repeat the mistakes my father had made.So I involved Sudhir with each aspect of our daughters lives.He loved being a hands on father---this was a new thing back then in India---both parents bringing up the children together.
I took upon myself the task of disciplining the girls since I spent my entire day with them.We also made the rule to eat our daily dinner and to spend Sundays together as a family.Sudhir would get three vacations a year---the Courts would close for Summer,Diwali and Christmas Vacations as would the Schools.We would spend these Vacations together as a family.
In the early years of his practice Sudhir(he is a practising Lawyer in the High Court) would leave early in the mornings and be home late at night. To ensure that the kids didn't go hungry due to this I began giving them 'High Tea' at around 5.30p.m. daily and Dinner at 9.30 or 10p.m.I was the strict parent who was always pulling them up for every wrongdoing.After they slept I'd confide all the details of the day to Sudhir so he was totally aware of all their mischief.
I made just the one rule---Sudhir would not add to the punishment given to them by me-----I wanted them to enjoy their quality time together minus any disciplinary action.This fostered a strong bond between the three of them and Sudhir became their biggest confidant----he was privy to all their confidences----in fact they confided more in him than in me!!!!Their relationship was so open that Sudhir knew every small joy and every tiniest disappointment that they went through.He comforted them during'those' days of the month---discussed Fashion and make-up with them and was more aware of the latest trends than I was.
The bonding today is so close that the girls wish him wihout fail on 'Mother's Day' AND 'Father's Day'!!!My daughters call daily to talk to 'Dad' and if he's not available just go through the motions with me.I truly love this scenario----I take full credit for it!!!
Today our grand daughter has joined the band wagon as well----needless to say that she's the numero uno in the eyes of her Aabu!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NITAINMN 12/12/2009 11:50PM

    So glad you are NOT the jealour type of a parent!!! What great rules....happy to read your story. who is ritzy - sounds like your family?

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ATMANI 12/8/2009 12:06PM


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SAASHA17 12/8/2009 11:46AM

    Well KOmal..u hit the mark with this memory of urs....I have a similar relationship with my dad...I am a single child ..he wud call me from all these different parts of the world..when back in the 90's it cost $4 per minute for that call and he wud listen to all my stories , my tiffs and of course my tiffs with mom...When I was coming to the US, he packed my suitcase....my mom loves the fact that i have tat bond with him..but ofcourse with all the fights and tiffs as my mom says " a daughter is a lifelong friend":...Man these blogs are making me miss my parents more than usual...I talk to them everyday....I miss them so much....

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RITZY60 12/8/2009 3:09AM

  Sudhir's relationship with my nieces and grand niece is just fantastic. Komal on the other hand still has her arguments with them and at the same time she will think of all the stuff the kids are missing out on in USA and make sure she carries whatever she can. Whether it is clothes, utensils or masalas. Sudhir gets upset with her coz he feels she unnecessarily adds to the baggage when they can travel light!!! Komal will fret and fume and finally have her way!!!

For me I find it extremely hilarious watching them both!! emoticon

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Tribute to Daddy

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My father was an Architect & Town Planner who got his degrees from Oxford University and The Royal Institute of British Architects.Responding to Pandit Nehru's call he came back to offer his skills to his newly independant Nation.In 1951 he joined the Chandigarh Project when it was envisaged with Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew,two British architects.Later the project went to Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret
He worked on the Chandigarh project in close proximity with Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret who were known us as Grandpere and Jeanneret Uncle.
My father was a workoholic whom we saw very rarely.Whatever time he spent with us was so little that we did not actually know him---he was 'Daddy' who according to our mother was her saviour and our final disciplinarian!!!
My two younger sisters and I were totally in awe of him because we feared his quick temper which would flare at the slightest provocation!!!
My father was later appointed the Founder-Principal of The College of Architecture in Chandigarh at it's inception and his work load increased tremendously.
In 1965 he suffered from Low BP and was advised to rest at home.His leave had been pending for 5 years---he had never availed of it!!!
Our mother jubilantly gave us the 'good' news---Daddy'd be home for 6 months on vacation----all three of us literally froze---what would happen to us????How were WE going to survive these six months?Heaven help us--specially me as I as the most headstrong ,hot headed and stubborn amongst the three of us.
Finally the month of May arrived and Daddy stayed home.We spent our first 2 months of his and our Summer Vacation in Mumbai and Kolhapur so were spared too much interaction with him----but July arrived and we came home to Chandigarh.
We slowly got to know him as he actually was.We became friends with him and realised what we had missed.He too became a child while inter-acting with us---our REAL live Teddy Bear--- and as the days passed it was as if we were four children having fun and playing pranks on our poor mother--- the four us became the bane of our her life!!!
He was a fantastic Mimic---a fabulous Singer-Painter and Dancer.He taught me to dance the Jive,Waltz,Foxtrot,Quick Step and the Cha Cha Cha.We began singing and appreciating Frank Sinatra,Bing Crosby,Jim Reeves,Pankaj Mullick , K.l. Saigal and Talat Mehmood songs along with those of Mohd.Rafi,Kishore Kumar,Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar,Asha Bhonsle,Elvis Presley,Cliff Richards,Pat Boone and Englebert Humperdinck.
The Indo-Pak War broke out and trenches were dug in our huge garden----our father turned our fear into a game and taught us to be fearless---so much so when Ambala just 40 miles from Chandigarh was bombed we took the news with horror at the bombing but with total equanimity and without fear.He motivated us to join the Red Cross and help out in whichever capacity we could.He felt that this was the minimum that we could do to thank those brave men who suffered in the battlefield so that we would remain safe.This way he taught us to appreciate everything that anyone does for us and to be vocal about giving thanks-----acknowledging anybody's good work should always come first."Give whole hearted credit wherever and whenever it is due" was what he taught us.
Today I regret we got such little time with him.Our entire lives would have been different had we shared a better rapport with him earlier---we'd have appreciated him more but I thank The Almighty for giving us those precious later years----for giving us such a loving,generous and open minded father.
He died on 15th.October 1974 aged just 53 years in Mauritius, where he had been invited by Sir Ram Goolam on deputation from India.I was 21,my sister Mekhala(Mikki)was 16 and the youngest Ritu was just 13.
Even today I sing "Oh what a beautiful morning" and "Singing in the Rain" as 'pick me up' songs on low days.I have taught my grandaughter these songs too---like my Daddy, these help me to change my outlook towards the day,square my shoulders,lift my chin and face Life with renewed vigour.
Thank You Daddy---all four of us love you and miss you---more than words can ever say.
Au Revoir till we meet again!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FATIMAZEHRA 12/8/2009 1:32PM

    Amazing blog... its really broigs back memory of my father. I lost Him in last year. I miss him a lot. emoticon

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ATMANI 12/8/2009 12:04PM

    beautiful blog

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SAASHA17 12/8/2009 11:42AM

    Komal ,

that was beautiful...wow ur dad sounds amazing:)...It sure does bring back memories...my father is in the merchant navy so i used to see him for 4months a year...fun times..take care

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RAGGARWALAX 12/8/2009 10:05AM

    Komal - what a beautiful tribute to your dad! I am sure that he also treasured his time with his family. I am sure that you must have relived all of those memories while writing this blog. It has made me think of my earlier days as well.

Thank you!

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Facts about being a Mother

Monday, December 07, 2009

I used to Paint and write Poetry and Short Stories while in school.I married early--at 17 years old. After my marriage I turned into a full time Home Maker and also pursued my hobbies.
By the age of 21 years, I was the mother of two beautiful daughters and my hobbies slowly took a back seat with the focus shifting to bringing up my daughters and trying to run a near perfect home on well oiled wheels.My energy was totally centred on improving my skills as a wife and mother.
As Time passed, a feeling of inadequacy started to creep in.Perhaps my age and understanding being immature at the Time of bringing up my daughters I felt that sometimes I must have vented my frustrations on the two of them.I began to feel no matter how hard I tried I fell short of being a good mother and this is what kept pricking me for years.As Time passed my daughters grew up,married and moved away.This feeling of inadequacy started getting stronger.I felt scared to ask my daughters what they felt about me as a mother because I was unsure of the answer I would get.
I suffered a severe heart attack in February2009.Alone in the ICU, I reviewed my Life and decided to take the bull by the horns.I would try to make amends for my faulty parenting with my daughters when I'd see them next.
I broached the topic this time on my vacation with them and while they re-assured me about myself as their mother,they were fair enough to point out my mistakes.However they DID give me the grade of an above average mother!!!
Today I stand re-assured about myself as a parent.When I see the two responsible adults that I gave birth to and brought up, I feel and burst of pride and joy----not because I did a good job but because I managed to give them both the right values in Life and help them develope into good humane Human Beings.
That I feel is my biggest gift to society---my daughters!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHANTIPEN 12/9/2009 7:03PM

  Hi Komal- this is my first time writing on a blog. I live in the UK and I read ur piece on the guilty mother syndrome- many of us and myself included go through life thinking this way - i still am- i have just turned 40 and my two children are 18 and 16. Now that they don`t need us so much, i feel i have let them down when they adored me and needed me everyday. i know they love me a great deal and tell me each day but i still feel inadequate. So- don`t feel alone in this- women are so guilt ridden- we have to keep remembering that we are much harder on ourselves than we realise. Your blogs have been so motivational to me this evening- so imagine what a positive influence you have been on your family. Good luck in your life and take care of yourself. My inspiration is my mother- her motto in life is - `commit, commit, commit- nothing is impossible!` She is a doctor and works long hours, comes home, works out, spends time with my daughter helping with the science homeworks, then she works on her articles and then she is up again at 5am. My parents really did not spend so much time with me as a child- being over worked, underpaid junior doctors here but i never felt any loss- i have a wonderful , close relationship with them. That`s my story and be happy.

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ATMANI 12/7/2009 2:47PM

    beautiful blog. thanks for sharing.

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SAASHA17 12/7/2009 12:10PM

    KOmal...any mom is amazing and esp a mom of a daughter...all kudos to her...Coz i know i have been one horrible teenager and if it wasnt for my mom i dont know how I would have turned out..People see me now and are all praises but only me n my parents know how much my mom went through raising me...Esp with my dad away for 8-9 months at a time..she sacrificed her time with him to be there for me....

SO all the moms U rock....every mom is the best....and I hope i can be atleast 10% of what u guys are....

Here is to Moms....SAUDE!!(cheers in portuguese..i love the word so i try to use it as often as possible)...


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REKHAKAKR 12/7/2009 11:05AM

    Komal , you have summed it up very nicely that "you managed to give them both the right values in Life and help them develope into good Human Beings"
. and this satisfaction is what all it matters .

no body is perfect if you look back does our parents were perfect or for the matter of fact are our kids doing everything right and who will define what is right and whats wrong . may be what seems right today comes out wrong tomorrow so .

Sometimes i also debate about that being a mother at young age has compromised the upbringing of my son ( my son was born when i was 22).sometimes i feel it would have been better if i have been alittle more mature . but that was right at that time so now cant change that . now i look at it this way he is into his teens and there is less generation gap .

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RITZY60 12/7/2009 10:32AM

  A very beautifully written blog.

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RAGGARWALAX 12/7/2009 9:13AM

    Komal - beautiful blog! It is extremely tough being a parent and doing it at such an early age is even more challenging. As parents we try to do the best we can but at the same time, we do not have all the answers. We are constantly second guessing ourselves but it does not stop us from trying and that is commendable. We try to learn from our own childhood as to what we liked and disliked in our parents and our children will do the same but each generation will always have its challenges.

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SONPARI1 12/7/2009 2:34AM

    Komal, this blog seems to come just in time when I needed it, I always wonder if I am doing the right thing as a mother. My kids are young but they are ready to jump and compare other mother with me and feel that I am not doing what they expect me to do. Hopefully, they will realize someday........or maybe I will too!

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Friday, December 04, 2009

I know Women are mainly vain----but Cancer is the biggest leveller of Vanity.
After I lost my hair during Chemotherapy I got a wig made.During the early stages of hairloss I wore that wig regularly---wouldn't go out without it!!!
The year wore on and the Summer heat started-----that wig was a damn nuisance.The sweat caused my scalp to itch----and it would itch at the damnedest times!!!Due to the skullcap of the wig I couldn't even scratch my skull.
Finally I came to terms with Life---factually I was totally hairless---bald--no eyebrows--no eyelashes.Was my vanity so important to me that I overlooked so many other rewarding aspects of Life?
That is when I decided that no matter what I looked like I was myself through and through.My husband didn't mind me being that way and he is the most important person whose opinion counted for me.
I stopped wearing that wig and didn't wear a scarf either---this was me and if I was comfortable being myself then to Hell with what the world thought and felt!!! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NITAINMN 12/12/2009 11:53PM

    Congrats! Agree with others...must have been so liberating. Congrats on being a cancer surviver!! emoticon

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SONPARI1 12/7/2009 1:57AM

    I agree with manasa, such stories are really inspiring....on introspection, we are all so obsessed with out outer looks that we forget our true self...

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ATMANI 12/4/2009 3:04PM

    I can relate to your experience. emoticon

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SAASHA17 12/4/2009 2:46PM

    I am so proud of u...Komal u r an inspiration..gud for u...Its what inside that counts and everyone should realise that...U r so beautiful inside out....


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RAGGARWALAX 12/4/2009 9:07AM

    Komal - good for you ...what a liberating moment when you choose to be who you are and be proud of yourself! I'm sure it was not an easy decision to make but once you do it, you feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your head (literally LOL)

Take care!

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