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Honeymooning in Shimla

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The year Sudhir and I got married,Diwaali came in October itself.By the time we finished the post Wedding get-togethers we had just 6 days to cram our Honeymoon into----which we did in Shimla----5 hours drive from Chandigarh.We were spending the first Diwaali as per custom with my parents and Daddy had made arrangements for us to spend a short time in Oberoi Clark's on the Mall Road.While The Cecil was a bigger and more ostentatious hotel I personally favoured the Clark's because of it's quaint olde English facade.It was built like a Cottage and had very limited space for boarders.Just 2 Suites and about 10 Double Rooms---that's what it offered in those days---I have no idea if it still stands today.We had Suite No.2 facing the back----the view was truly Spectacular!!The Hotel was built on the bluff of the cliff and the ground below our window just fell steeply to the Road below----Buses and people looked like Toys!!
We reached Shimla in the late evening---dusk had already fallen and the lights had begun twinkling.This was our first trip together as a couple------as usual I'd already got Hubby's hackles up by chatting up another couple on the bus----in detail down to our address in Mumbai!!!!After we reached we hired a "Coolie" or a loader to carry our luggage to the Hotel----the fellow was a local guy.Now those familiar with the terrain will recall the climb uphill to the Mall road first and from there the long walk to the Hotel on the other end.Sudhir was totally unaware of this----already irritated------and unwilling to listen to any explanations!!!We kept on walking steadily through the increasing dark---each time he asked the Coolie how much further the fellow would point at a light in the distance and say"just there Saheb!!!"Saheb was getting more and more hassled and suspicious and hassled as the 10 minutes turned into 50-----but the Hotel didn't appear!!!!
One thing calmed my suspicious Hubby's mind a little---by now we were on level ground and in the middle of the bustling Mall Road Bazaar----the Coolie didn't appear to have any sinister motives!!!It took us a little over an hour to get to the Hotel but to ease his guilty conscience Sudhir paid the Coolie a hefty tip---for harbouring such suspicions against the poor fellow!!!
When we were ushered into our reserved Suite the view just took our breath away----the horizon was full of tiny twinkling lights---as if there was a carpet of Stars laid out for us on the slope of the mountain opposite!!!The Suite had four Rooms---the enclosed Balcony,the Drawing Room,Bedroom,Dressingroom and a huge Bath Room.There was a fire roaring in the Fireplace thanks to the chill in the Autumn Air--------bowls of steaming hot Soup made their appearance and the remaining irritation finally disappeared from Hubby's face---but not before reprimanding me pretty sharply about my runaway tongue and my naivete!!!
The next day we woke to beautiful Sunrise-----the Mountains bathed in a rosy glow and slowly getting Gold tints as the Sun rose---the light glinting and winking on the myriad windowpanes of the houses on the opposite slope!!!The chilly Mountain scented Breeze gushed in when I opened the window----it was so exhiliarating!!!Breakfast was typically British,Eggs to preference with Bacon,Sausages and Porridge,crisp Toast, fresh Juice,Fruit and Tea/Coffee----5 star comfort those days was farmore lavish than today's!!!As all the meals were part of the Tariff we gave the order for Lunch and stepped out to saunter down the Mall---dressed to the hilt!!!
Newly weds---specially the Brides those days really dressed up in their finery and wore loads of Jewellery---I was no exception.It was common to wear a set(Necklace,Earrings and Bangles) matching the Gold embroidered Saris we wore---the Red line of Sindoor in the hair parting proclaiming your status to the World at large!!!!As per our agreement---my face was made-up but my neckline was very demure----I had carried my beautifully embroidered Chiffons and Chinons(Kashmiri Crepe Silks) and since I was very scrawny actually---all skin and bones those days---these accentuated my thinness even further making me look like a Scarecrow----though Sudhir thought it made me look ethereal----but then Love IS blind!!!
Those five days passed all too quickly and we had done so much shopping that we bought a new suitcase to fit the new stuff in(still need to do that today too---still as indiscreet)---there were loads of Silk Saris for the folks back home and me---Kulu Shawls for Aaji and Akka----Pashmina Shawls for Atya and Mummy---Tweed material for Coats for Daddy,Milind and Sudhir---stuff for all the kids---nieces,nephews and my younger sisters------we remembered each member of our respective families!!!The Idyll ended far too soon---we came to Earth with a bump---those beautiful days became a precious Memory to be hugged close to my chest and cherished!!!We later went back with the Girls in 1979-80------in fact spent the New Year there----we got the same Suite as on our Honeymoon----the children too got to see the place I kept referring to first hand---only it snowed in Shimla after the 4 of us left for Chandigah.This trip too was beautiful and all of us had a great time---- but a certain element of Magic was lacking---maybe it was because I was older and somewhat wiser---warier if you please!!!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NITAINMN 11/16/2011 9:35PM

    Hey Komal:-) I was reading spell bound! You must put together all your blogs as per date and give them to ghost writers and put in print. I bet it will fetch you both first class air fare to honey moon once more and visit all your family abroad! Love your writing style....keep it up! emoticon

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LISANANCY 4/20/2010 10:36AM

    Oh, what a wonderful story and you tell it with so much passion! Thanks for taking us along. emoticon

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ZANNACHAN 4/18/2010 10:47PM

    What a lovely memory! I also love the smaller hotels--especially B&B's.

How cool that you got you got to go back with your girls later, even if it wasn't quite the same I bet it was nice to share that memory with them.

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RAJASHREE108 4/18/2010 7:05PM

    Wow Komal, you have a way with words. You not only describe everything so well but we feel we have entered that time and place ourselves. I so look forward to reading your blogs. Please put in a picture or two from your wedding so we can enjoy the blogs more.

By the way, what school did you go to? You have such good command over English. emoticon

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MESSENE 4/18/2010 3:05PM

    emoticonWow! This trips sound so amazing, and wonderful. Such nice memories! emoticon

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MILLISMA 4/18/2010 9:31AM

    What beautiful memories! I love that you took your children there. I could just picture everything from you fantastic descriptions. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories, Komal. It is very special.

Mary Anne emoticon

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EACHDAYAGIFT 4/18/2010 9:00AM

    "Light glinting and winking on myriad windowpanes"..."a carpet of stars laid out for us" ... I just loved these poetic descriptions and the way they both painted a clear picture of an enchanting moment in life. And I like the way the words lilt along together, the rhythm of the phrases. Can't put my finger on it, but it pleased me!

You were such a young bride, but did you feel it at the time, or did you feel very grown up? I still remember how adult I felt when I married, at 21, and how taken aback I was when I was mistaken for a high school student!
emoticon

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My Lessons in Housekeeping

Saturday, April 17, 2010

When we first shifted here in 1975 I was just 21 years old----and very naive and trusting---for me ignorance was actually bliss!!!One of the first persons I met here and connected with was Vahini----it means"Sister--in-law"-----a brother's wife is called this.Vahini and her husband Dada(older brother) had shifted into the flat directly above us on the 6th.Floor along with their 3 children.This was a joint family with Dada's parents and two sisters living with them.This family as a whole welcomed me into their fold with great love and affection-----today I'm a part of this family.
I was a total dunce where budgetting was concerned.Those days there were no "fixed" prices----specially for Vegetables and Fruits.One first had to ask the price,state the weight required, then haggle to bring the price down to what was considered the "right "price-----something I'm still no good at---even today!!!
Both Vahini and I would go shopping for fresh produce twice each week---Mondays and Thursdays----to the local Vegetable market.The first time we went Vahini was appalled at my ignorance---whatever the vendor asked for I paid----it never even occurred to me that I was being gypped!!!However she quickly took charge of the situation-----she took the money from my hands and firmly told the Vendor that I wouldn't be buying the Cauliflower I had selected------there was a fresher and a better one at the next stall and much cheaper as well!!!
The Vendor was terribly annoyed----but since I wasn't protesting there was nothing much he could do about it except reduce the price to a fraction of what he had earlier quoted!!!We bought the entire lot of Vegetables from various Vendors----and the total amount I spent that day was exactly the price I was initially going to pay for the Cauliflower alone!!!!!That day Vahini and I made a pact----I'd point out the Vegetables I wanted---she'd do the bargaining-----thus I learnt my first lesson in housekeeping.
The next thing she taught me was to buy Groceries----here again we'd go to 3-4 shops and compare both the prices as well as the quality of the goods.Finally a certain shop would be fixed,the monthly Grocery list handed over to the Shopkeeper----the stuff would be delivered home.Each item had to be stored in a certain manner---the whole pulses would be dried further in the Sun on the Terrace,Caster Oil would be applied to the Rice and Wheat----these were bought in larger quantities and had to last 5-6 months.The application of Castor Oil was necessary because we lived near the Sea so the Grains were to be kept fresh for the required period.
Vahini also taught me to make the various types of Squashes----I still follow the proportions she taught me.I learnt to make various Pickles and Sweet pickles from her----specially the spicy Pickle Masala---she taught me the proportions.I also learnt to make certain other things from her like homemade Snacks-------spicy Chaklis,various types of Chivadas and Sev---she would insist on making these deep fried snacks at home because these were more hygenic and much healthier than store bought ones.
She taught me all this and many more finer nuances of looking after my home---there is an age difference of 15 years between Vahini and me----we are each other's best friends----and today she has in fact become my sister-in-law even though we're not related to each other at all!!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SRITHI97 4/20/2010 2:49PM

    lucky to have a vahini like yours, we had to learn everything here, in this new country all by our self... it is always nice to have some guidance. emoticon

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NIMI4444IN 4/20/2010 2:40PM

    wish i'd got my housekeeping lessons from someone else. here hv to learn from my own mistakes but now managing quite well (hopefully) on my own.

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ZANNACHAN 4/18/2010 10:51PM

    Hehehe, I'm not very good at haggling either. I'm glad that I live in a place where I don't have to haggle to buy groceries!

Sounds like you've been pretty lucky when it comes to family--especially you family by marriage. That's fantastic.

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RAJASHREE108 4/17/2010 10:58PM

    Loved to read your blog and remember those youthful years.

ते ही नो दिवसा गता
emoticon

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ATMANI 4/17/2010 10:42PM

    spicy chutneys and chaklis make my mouth water...

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Chalk and Cheese!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Though Sudhir and I are first cousins we were poles apart culturally when we got married-----my upbringing was way different from his traditionaly conservative one------Daddy was far more broadminded and open to changes thanks to his being exposed to a wider canvas culturally.Thus Daddy didn't mind what type of clothes we wore---his only stipulation was that they should be decent!!!
I was 17 and Sudhir 26 years old when we got married in 1970-----11th.October, month or so after my 17th. birthday.He was extremely clear about the fact that I was to wear only Saris after the Wedding-----no Salwar Kameezes at all!!!Not just that he also gave me the design of the type of Sari blouses he wanted me to wear----high necked at the back and with three quarter length sleeves reaching just below my elbows!!!I made a pact with him-----the part above the neck was mine to do what I wanted with and below the neck was all to be dealt with the way he wanted.Those days we used get cool Weather by November---so the four months of November - February would be extremely pleasant,balmy and cool----sometimes chilly too!!!I concieved almost immediately but these restrictions did not hamper me till after mid-April 1971 when it began turning humid and steamy-----by my 7th.month I was at my wits end in the hot clinging Saris---my huge Baby bump,the petticoats,the six yard material wound around it----the Saris would ride up to float around my calves when I stood up!!!The blouses too would be terribly tight restrictive around the increasing girth of my waist.The nights were equally bad----we had a fully male live-in Staff those days------so to sleep like that at night too----all were extremely uncomfortable to put it mildly.However finally I landed back at my parents place and stepped into the loose comfort of Nighties each night---not just this began wearing loose Salwar Kurtas during the day----oh the feeling was so blissfull!!!!The birth of Lotta brought me back to square one------only I needed new blouses stitched---none of the old ones fit!!!!
Sudhir is moody----not exactly an introvert but has his moods---me I need people----an aftermath of my childhood.It was difficult in the beginning to read and adjust to his moods----if he was annoyed about something he'd just bottle it up----and not talk to me at all for at lest a week-----I'd go mad trying to figure out what I'd done wrong???If I was annoyed all the World would hear it long and loud from me---once vented I'd forget-----this was one basic difference which we've done away with today---both of us vent loud and long---and forget!!!!
My basically trusting Nature would get his hackles up----I'd proceed on the premise of someone being innocent till proven guilty------with him it was the opposite---guilty till proven innocent and this still continues----I like to think that there is still some goodness left---he disagrees!!!I have loads of friends in the Condominium---he hardly knows even those who've lived here as long as we have!!
Food habits too are different---I love most Foods and am willing to try different types of Cuisines---Sudhir is typically Indian in his tastes!!!In fact he can't eat all the different Indian Cuisines---here too he picks and chooses according to taste!!!While I enjoy an unlimited Variety of Foods,he's perplexed by how I can even taste certain things to begin with!!!The presentation does count I do agree----but one can't have preconcieved notions about the colour,smell and consistency of various different types of Food.Sudhir's Tea is what sets his mood for the day-----specially the freshness of the Milk---it should be freshly delivered and the ratio should 1 part Water to 2parts of Milk.Once made it should be served in a tiny demi-tasse cup--the Tea in the cup should give forth a certain aroma,should have a certain colour for him to taste it.Then the consistency of the Tea should pass the ultimate test----if it meets with his approval,his beautiful smile lights up my day---if not my day too falls flat early in the morning!!!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NITAINMN 11/18/2011 4:07PM

    I can't believe how similar our stories are of our spouses....when you talk about Sudhir, he sounds just like my hubby! I too went thru similar incidences in my life. We even share the same birth month and year perahaps? I too was born in October!!! Got married at 19 on Christmas day...however, we are not cousins. hehehe! emoticon emoticon

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LISANANCY 4/20/2010 10:51AM

    My day is set by the coffee! Are you sure your husband doesn't have a brother in the US. While we are not Indian, men are so much the SAME! emoticon

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MESSENE 4/16/2010 10:54AM

    emoticon emoticonblog! I can understand the tea with milk, 20 years ago I had a boyfriend from Pakistan, and I learned to make this yummy tea. He just loved it! emoticonFunny I haven't mad it ever since emoticonI think I forgot.
Have a super emoticonday! emoticon emoticon

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ATMANI 4/15/2010 1:36PM

    very cute indeed!

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SAASHA17 4/15/2010 12:02PM

    Wow Komal...My future just flashed before me...hehehe...whatever u mentioned about the habits and tastes even to the tea and everything...sudhir sounds just like my boyfriend..lol...hahaha...

I try every kind of food....some things which i dont even know..and he doesnt eat anything expct andhra food...lol...and same thing about trusting people too..I have a million friends...


u should tell me more...:)

Manasa

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ZANNACHAN 4/15/2010 11:01AM

    Hehehe, well, they do say opposites attract *grin*

What a cute post. I can't imagine having to wear all those layers when it's that hot and when very pregnant! I don't mind wearing layers of petticoats and skirts when I'm up on my feet in the summer (though our summers are not as hot as yours, I'm sure!) but the minute I sit down all those layers turn into blankets!

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EACHDAYAGIFT 4/15/2010 10:42AM

    P.S. Here are some perfect cups of tea for Sudhir to ensure you many happy days. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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EACHDAYAGIFT 4/15/2010 10:39AM

    Your pregnancy story makes me think of my poor friend, hugely pregnant on a sweltering day. She was laying on the lounge in her back sunroom, shirt hiked up to her bra, shorts pulled down to bikini level, baby bump getting some much needed air, legs spread wide for ventilation as a fan blew on her miserable body. (Nowadays, pregnant women in the US wear form fitting clothes and even let their tummy peek out a bit, but in the 80's we still wore the looser, hide the bump styles). Suddenly the UPS delivery man looms in her doorway, having chosen the back door instead of the front. She was so embarrassed, but he just said, "Relax, I have four kids myself, I know what you're going through." emoticon

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SRITHI97 4/15/2010 8:00AM

    yeah very cute.

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SAKHAR74 4/15/2010 3:07AM

  Awww, Mummy......super-cute post!

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My Beautiful Mountains!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I have been fascinated by the Mountains ever since I can remember.The city of Chandigarh is built in such a way------you can see the Mountains easily in the distance from everywhere.For me---they are my alter-ego----I identify with their extreme ly rugged beauty and their timelessness------they are eternal!!!My nanny,Amma, hailed from the Himalayan Foothills-------and had a vast store of stories and legends to narrate every night at bedtime.There were Mystical places like the Temple of the Flame Goddess-----Jwaala Devi,other Temples of Shakti---the Goddess Parvati's manifestations in various forms as well as legends of mysteriousCaves, Lakes and thick impenetrable Forests deep in the heart of these Mountains----these tales are the reason for my umbilical cord being tied to these natural wonders.Even today Gods and Goddesses still make their presence felt there-----total spirituality!!!
The mountains are enigmatic and mysterious----their Weather changes,their beauty---everything about them seems to be shrouded in mystery.The beautiful Flora and Fauna----such beautiful flowers with scents to swoon for---all growing wild----and the Spruces,Firs and Cedars----the entire Air is a heady mix----addictive and haunting!!!Their mysterious Valleys of Flowers in the upper reaches---according to legend----there are carpets of rare Blooms spreading as far as the eye can see----and many Wise Men who live in the isolated Caves and meditate----talk of the hypnotic effect of their heady fragrance!!!The Hill Folk are deeply religious and extremely superstitious-------and if one ever lived in the Mountains so would one be too!!!Here Ghosts and Ghouls abound---very few places are free of these----and no one steps out after midnight-----certain tales do have the flavour of Truth.
My love for reading made my love even stronger---Rudyard Kipling's "Kim" is a must read each time Nostalgia grips me-----the Grand Trunk Road,the beautiful Mountains and Plains and the wonderful Train journeys----all these embody the rose tinted childhood I enjoyed.The Grand Trunk Road was the back drop for Kim's adventures-----other books like Kipling's "Man who would be King" as well as short stories by Ruskin Bond--------since he lives in the Hill Station of Mussoorie his tales deal with that part of the Himalayan Range.
Many are the hours I've spent just gazing at these in the distance----they used to be a hazy Purple in the Summer---the setting Sun would glint on the window panes of Solan and Shimla----the entire Mountain top would wink and flicker at Sunset in the Summer-----once the Sun set,the Street lights would twinkle against the beautiful velvetty Indigo Sky.During Summer we slept on the Terrace-------I would fall asleep just gazing at their magical glory!!!
In Winter the same Mountains turned Blue---with White Icing on them.The lights still shone but were not as clearly visible as in the Summer.Sometimes Snow storms covered them----I hated that---but after these were over the Sunlight would turn the sparkling Peaks into shades of Rose and Gold at Sunrise and Sunset!!!!Today all those colours and scenes are clearly imprinted on my mind's eye----each nuance is still sharp and crystal clear.The Mountains have been my companions in childhood----and remain an integral part of my psyche-----I know I'll never see them again but then I don't really need to----they live in my heart---always!!!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MILLISMA 4/14/2010 8:47PM

    Komal,

The town I grew up in is at the base of a mountain. Your blog brought back so many memories of my childhood. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Anne emoticon

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ATMANI 4/14/2010 1:10PM

    Thank you for sharing. I love mountains too!

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ZANNACHAN 4/14/2010 11:02AM

    Yes, Mountains really do have a way of inspiring the imagination, don't they? I used to want to live in the mountains.

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The Siren's Call!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Summer's back and with it my yearning for the misty blue Himalayan Foothills.This morning I saw the Travelogue in "Sarita" the Hindi magazine I subscribe to.Each year this magazine showcases various places of Tourism from all over India------this year too they've featured new destinations----mostly off the beaten track.
One of the features is Kasauli---a favourite haunt of ours in childhood.Those days----in 1959---- it was a thickly wooded Cantonment area---we'd stay in the old Circuit House.This old rambling bungalow was built on two levels---ground plus one.Both levels were mysterious and in some places creepy---this is where I first saw a Ghost----a real one!!!Daddy was an avid trekker---he'd leave early in the mornings to catch the Sunrise atop the various peaks surrounding the Hill Station.
That day he was to climb Monkey Point---the tallest peak there so he left at 4a.m. in the early Dawn.I was awake and wanted to go with him-----he'd already said "No" to me saying it was too difficult for me.So I thought I'd creep out after him and follow him for a certain distance----once we were reasonably far from the Circuit House I'd join him----he'd have no choice but to take me along.As I crept along the passage I saw a light in the Drawing Room----this was odd because all the lights would be extinguished at night----and the fires banked down to prevent mishaps-----most of these old British Raj Bungalows were built with lots of wood.Thus the glow of a crackling Fire aroused my curiosity and I peeped into the Drawing room.The fire was crackling away merrily in the Fire Place and an English gentleman was stretched out in front of it in the Easy Chair!!!He was smoking a pipe---puffing away at it as he read his letter but there was no smoke nor was there any smell of Tobacco.My hackles rose and suddenly the Gentleman turned and looked straight at me------his face was just a blur!!!That totally spooked me and I turned tail and ran pell mell to my room---and crept into Amma's bed!!!Sleep was impossible---my carefully laid plan had gone bust----and I was reduced to a shivering mess!!!
I made the mistake of telling Amma what I had seen later in the morning.That was it---the next thing I knew was that she made me sit in a particular position while she performed a little Exorcism on me.I was firmly admonished to be good----and an amulet was tied on my arm by the priest of the Shiva temple nearby to keep evil spirits at bay.God alone knows who the that Ghost was---why he was still there---and whether he was good or bad!!!
Kasauli still holds a very special place in my heart---it is one those destinations I'd love to revisit----given my Health I doubt the possibility of going there----the memories with all the nuances have to suffice!!!

  
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ATMANI 4/15/2010 1:37PM

    Thanks Komal for the interesting show case of experiences, always wonderful to read.

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SONPARI1 4/14/2010 12:05AM

    very interesting, you experiences showcases the wonderful childhood you had. emoticon

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RAJASHREE108 4/13/2010 10:01PM

    Komal, you have a way with words.. your story spooked me out. I remembered when as children we used to go to grandmother's village and all those older cousins used to tell us the ghost stories at night. I still remember how we used to scream with every flicker of those kerosin lamps.

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MILLISMA 4/13/2010 2:53PM

    Komal, what an interesting story. Did you ever find out the history of the house? It would be interesting to see if you could find out anything about the possibility of who the ghost could have been.

How has the temperature been lately? How hot does it actually get?

Thinking of you.

Mary Anne emoticon

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EACHDAYAGIFT 4/13/2010 1:21PM

    For one magical year of my childhood, when I was 11-12, we lived in a house built in 1802,old for America, and said to be haunted. For some goofy reason, I really loved to imagine that I would meet a ghost, and created practice scenarios of what I would do and say. In my imaginings, the ghost was never malevolent, and I was always poised and grown up, the perfect hostess, welcoming the spirit and putting them at ease. In my imagination I always thought I would offer them tea (even though I didn't know how to make it and never drank it!). I never got the opportunity to try out my plan,which is just as well because I would have been so scared, any thoughts of tea would have flown out the window! emoticon emoticon

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SAASHA17 4/13/2010 1:16PM

    ooh ghosts..they scare me but i believe in them...I never saw one though and i dont think even if i saw one, I wud be alive to tell the tale!!:D

Manasa

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ZANNACHAN 4/13/2010 12:53PM

    Wow, what a memory. I wonder what who he was, what his history was?

I hope you get to travel, even if you don't return there. I imagine it's getting pretty hot in the city and there are all sorts of lovely places to go visit.

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BOVEY63 4/13/2010 12:48PM

    Wow, what an adventure. I would love to have the opportunity to see these areas.

Thanks for sharing!

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