Monday, April 19, 2010
Hind sight always gives a clearer view of the past----accentuates the past mistakes and highlights the Plus Points!!!Today I too turn to look back and find that Life as a whole has been extremely kind to me---there have been times of hurt and pain but the resilience gifted to me by The Almighty at birth has been my mainstay always!!!The saying"No Gain without Pain" is sooooo true!!!!
I had a very happy childhood---my parents weren't indulgent but they ensured a secure,healthy and happy environment for us while the three of us were growing up.Our home was always filled with lots of Laughter and Positivity------despite the constraints of a conservative Society of the period,we enjoyed quite a bit of Freedom of Thought.In fact my father did all he could to aid my love for reading Books by ensuring a steady supply of quality English Literature----the Convent School education did the rest!!!!When I married I was well read and knowledgeable about a lot of things----and didn't hesitate to bore people around me by flaunting that Knowledge.This became a joke---I'd be asked questions and when I began giving the answers the topic would be deliberately changed---supposed to be good natured ribbing---but humiliating to the object of it.Sudhir hated it----and told me to answer to the point only----unfortunately something I still haven't mastered even today---I still give long winded answers!!!!However today those same people seem to hang on every word I utter!!!
My ignorance in running a household was a major drawback-----the live-in staff ran the home on well oiled wheels---I knew all of them from childhood---they too had often . indulged me as a child.I however had lost sight of the fact that the situation had changed-----I was no more a favourite visitor-----now as a housewife it was my duty to pay attention to details---it was after all MY home!!!Those days being a good Cook was of paramount importance!!!!Also besides that----- to be recognised as a skilled housewife one had to be conversant with Embroidery,Knitting and Tailoring as well ---each household owned a Sewing Machine!!!Thanks to the Nuns except Cooking I was well versed in all these other things---but not very fond of them.I much preferred my Books------and adored the company of my neices and nephews----telling them stories and playing games with them was my favourite pastime.
I wasn't very particular about my Closets being clean nor was I concerned with the day to day running of the home---planning the Menus for the Cook,directing the Staff on various ways of doing things---these were areas where I felt would be presumptous of me to interfere ----this was perhaps one of my biggest mistakes!!!!My laidback attitude was termed laziness and I was chastised for being so disinterested.That's when I realised that I had jumped into the deep end of the Pool---my being young was not an advantage for me----I had to prove my mettle among my peers--though they were way older than me!!!I tried to keep my untidyness at bay by ensuring that my Closets were clean---but beyond that I was clueless about what else to do????This again was criticised----now being uncaring and thoughtless was another added tag.These small things hurt deeply but here both my naturally bouyant Nature and Sudhir's silent but strong support came to my rescue.Today I keep a good Home--not impeccable but pretty good----after all I learnt most of my lessons the hard way!!!!
Life has it's own methods of bringing home the necessity of lessons that need to be learned----and that is exactly what happened.Lotta's birth opened my eyes to my new responsibilities----bringing up a baby!!!The idyll was over----the harsher truths of being a parent came to the fore----sleepless nights,trips to the Peadiatrician---the works!!!Slowly I began learning the ropes of looking after another human being through trial and error---that too one that was totally dependent on me and absolutely helpless to begin with!!!Sudhir was a totally hands on father----a nine day wonder in those days-----I owe him big time for standing with me always!!!He was my Great Wall of China---standing firmly between me and my detractors and actively encouraging me very positively to learn new things to improve my housewifely skills.After Sayali's birth we shifted here-----I'm aware that there were quite a few people looking to see whether I'd swim or sink----my heartfelt Thanks to The Almighty for giving me Sudhir----I swam------ slowly turning into a fish!!!
Am I bitter today about the taunts I had to bear?No I'm not----some of these do rankle yes,-----the mean comments have been relegated to the back burner of my mind------and those that were constructive have helped to make me into a better Human Being by helping to improve myself and recognise and modify my faults. I'm not magnanimous enough to forgive and forget-----a Saint I'm definitely not---but I'm definitely wise enough to move on with the maxim of "Live and let Live".I hate unpleasant situations in any environment specially in Family situations, so have never retaliated even once-----now it is too late and the wish to do so too has faded!!Ihave let bygones be bygones-----no sense in holding grudges.I now take care to be wary around those who hurt me and don't venture too close to them---the attitude being "thus far and no further"!!!
Today I am proud of the fact that we didn't rely on anybody to help us bring up our children---in fact we rarely left them with either his or my mother----Sudhir genuinely felt that the two of them had each reared their offspring so it was unfair to saddle them with ours.The fact that both the mothers were there should we need them was a great source of strength for us----but by God's Grace things turned out well.
Looking back I sincerely feel that I have had a very good life so far---blessed as I am with a great husband,1 beautiful Grand-daughter,2 Daughters and Sons-in-law----pray God that His Blessings continue!!!!
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!!!!
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!!!!
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