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!!!!
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!!!!
Get An Email Alert Each Time KOMAL53 Posts