Friday, June 04, 2010
The World was a much simpler place in my childhood.We didn't have a lot of things considered necessities today----most of which even I can't live without today------but those days these things were expensive then and therefore scarce.
I spent my childhood in Chandigarh-----a brand new City being built under the guidance of Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret.My father was an Architect who returned from Dublin where he was working---all fired up with Pandit Nehru's call to help build a new India-----and joined this project in late 1951.My parents married in 1952 and I was born in 1953---travelling to a small secluded lane of houses in what later became Sector 22 at the age of 2 months.The City and I grew up together-----so though my umbilical cord was buried in Bombay----Chandigarh was my twin!!!!
I have always been a child of Nature-----everywhere around me there were plenty of Trees and Birds---Parrots,Mynahs,Peacocks,Bul Buls and many more species.Most of all I loved the various Seasons-----the hot days in the Summers spent in rooms darkened with Khus Curtains----the beautiful scent of this Herb/Grass still pervades my nostrils----the nights under a Mosquito net on the Terrace under the Stars-----enjoying the beautiful Moonlit and Starlit nights under the velvety Indigo Sky-----the Radio playing softly nearby---lulling me to sleep!!!Sometimes we'd have Dust Storms blowing in from the sandy Desert of Rajasthan-----these "Aandhis" were beautiful to watch through the glass of the closed window panes------Sand swirling and twirling in the strong gusty Winds giving the entire atmosphere a brownish yellow touch----it would creep in through the crevices in the tightly locked doors and windows-----I loved to taste it on my tongue----besides it smelt beautiful----undescribable and unlike anything else!!!These Dust Storms would be followed by Rains------sharp,hardhitting and settling the dust raised------these were the pre-Monsoon showers bringing a little relief from the dry Summer heat!!!
In mid-July the Monsoon would present itself-----the Sky would darken to almost Black with thick Clouds,there would be strong bursts of Wind shaking the Trees with it's force,the Thunder would roll out it's thunderous Drums with flashes of Lightning dancing on this Rhythm in the darkness of the Clouds----We have been caught so often in the wilderness on the road to Ambala or near the village of Mani Majra------and have taken shelter under the small clumps of Trees----and been privileged to see the beautiful wild Peacocks spreading out their tails and dancing in wild abandon in homage to the life giving Rain!!!
To me each aspect of Nature is beautiful but the Indian Monsoon is unique----it's beauty is out of this World!!!The monsoon has been a favourite topic of Indian Painters---the Rajasthani and Kangra Paintings depict this period the most as their subject------with Radha and Krishna as the central figures.But I digress-----the first scent of drenched Earth,the sudden coolness in the Air,the pervading scent of the drenched summer flowers---various Jasmines---Mogra,Chameli and Belaa------the carpet of drenched blood Red Gulmohar under the feet----the Raintree in the Garden with it's leaves folded to announce the arrival of the Rain---the yellow Neem fruit sending out it's acridly bitter scent----it used to be a time for celebration of Life------this beautiful weather would continue for 2-3 months----wetting the Earth and cooling it's hot outer cover.
These beautiful childhood Memories also include those of hot crisp Vegetable "Pakoras" (Fritters)with hot Green Chutney and cups of hot Herbal Tea or"Kahwaa"-------wrapped in a chequered "Kheyss" or woven Coverlet---watching the Rain from the Verandah----today I've not visited the city for more than 30 years---so how much of it has changed I know not----I only know that really------
"Those were the Days my Friend
Unfortunately they did end!!!!"
Friday, June 04, 2010
The Monsoons are beautiful---specially in India----we literally long for those 3-4 months when the Skies open up and it pours!!!These last few years global warming has changed the pattern somewhat----now it rains during the drying out spell of the old days-----what days they were!!!!
Sudhir and I both adore the Rain------my first full fledged Mumbai Monsoon was in 1972----my Lotta was just a tiny baby then----it began raining on 7th.June somewhere around midnight.The Thunder crashed,Lightning flashed and the Rain came down thick and hard in torrents---- giant pelletsized Drops!!!It struck up a rhythm on the metal awning out side our bedroom window and woke us up.The Air was filled with a rich watery smell and the drumming of the Rain was reaching a crescendo-----Sudhir woke up our domestic help Vishnu,grabbed the housekeys from him and the two of us scooted out under a huge umbrella to the car with Lotta tucked tightly in my arms.We drove down to the Marine Drive Beach known as The Chowpatty and parked on the Sands-----it was an awesome sight!!!!The waves were rushing to the shore,crashing against the Rocks sending out thick creamy foaming sprays and receding,the Thunder, Lightning and Rain were playing a wildly beautiful Rhapsody----the atmosphere was charged with a primal raw Energy----breathtakingly powerful to behold!!!We sat there with the car windows rolled up for about an hour----the Rain spent itself into a gentle pitter-patter,Thunder and Lightning too took a bow----and the three of us drove home in spell bound silence-----Vishnu let us in and we literally crept in like fugitives through the sleeping house to our bedroom----to relive and savour what we'd seen and experienced!!!We were so enthralled by our experience that we didn't sleep a wink that night!!!!
Later after we shifted here I would sit with Sayali in my arms at the window----gazing out for hours at the Rain coming down in a steady downpour----the Grass in the Lawn muffling it's footsteps to a slight hiss.The smell of wet Earth,the newly minted Green of the well washed Trees------tall Coconut Palms swaying in the gusty winds-----the clap of Thunder and the white electrical flash of Lightning against an ominously grey Sky----oh how I love all of this!!!At times like these I want to spread my tail and dance---I envy the Peacock it's plumage and grace!!!!
After the children grew up----Lotta married and moved away---Sayali was busy with her College and her friends---Sudhir and I took to taking long drives in the rain.We'd drive to Bushie Dam----built by the British at Khandala--a Hill Station near Mumbai in the Western Ghats called Sahyadris.The overcast Sky,the cool Air,Rain drops spattering the windsheild,our favourite Love Songs---both English and Hindi playing in the Tape deck---it was dates like these that we'd steal out on after Sayali left to go wherever she had commitments----on every Saturday during the Monsoon!!!We'd spend the day there----eating lunch at a beautiful small place called "Biji's Ingleside Inn"----this used to serve wonderful thick creamy Soups and crusty Bread-----today that place has turned into a popular Resort---- too crowded to be a perfect getaway anymore!!!
Then Sayali too left---the rhythm of Life played to a slower and more laidback Melody with each passing Monsoon---and the Monsoon itself began behaving like a recalcitrant child----sulking and needing to be cajoled into performing it's yearly show.Today there are but Earth scented memories of those halycyon Days locked away to treasure and enjoy at leisure.
"Those were the days My Friend,
We thought they'd never end"
but end they did----and what was taken for granted has today acquired a special status---thanks to the greed and vagaries of Mankind!!!!
Monday, May 31, 2010
I just read a Blog---"Random Thoughts"----by NICE 125 and thought I'd try to recount my own experiences around those years-----like I always say----Hind sight really DOES give a clearer view!!!
I became a mother two months before my 18th.birthday---Lotta was born----and this set me off on a new journey of becoming responsible for another human being.From here I proceeded to another baby three years later----after this all the trappings followed------I was a full time Home maker with a very successful husband, a self owned South Bombay Flat,a comfortable Life,Domestic Staff,kids going to a very good School-----in fact I had(have) a cushy Life with everything. However as my age began passing by the late 30s there began to be bouts of self doubt----nothing I did was right or so I felt----there was a general feeling of inadequacy in most fields----no amount of re-assurance from my husband and kids was enough---suffice to say that I was frustrated---and couldn't figure out why!!!I had everything going for me but something was still missing!!!
Basically I'm like a bouncing ball-----I have to bounce back because my positivity reasserts itself at the earliest opportunity-----but this general frustration pushed me towards Food---which is something I've always loved---and so stuffing my face seemed to be the cure and the panacea for whatever ailed me.Added to this were my menstrual problems---I had extremely painful periods and used to bleed heavily,developed Anaemia,was always tired and fatigued,started getting bloated due to Water Retention----despite the great amount of physical activity I put in daily.
My answer to this came in the form of Ayurveda-----I was lucky to get an Ayurvedic "Vaidya" who knew her job and was well reknowned.She told me to start Meditation for rectifying my Blues and to go on a strict Diet for my weight----wrote out my prescription as being "99% diet and 1% medicine" for 6 months and thanks to her Treatment I lost about 30 kgs. over the next 6 months.My diet became purely Vegetarian---she cut out all the Beans and Legumes which were heavily gaseous with the exception of Moong(Green Gram),Masoor(Lentils) and Matki(Brown Gram/Moth) .I was told to eat only whole Grains in plenty namely Wheat,Jowar,Bajra(both types of Millet),Naachani(Raagi/Horse Millet) and Brown Rice----as these gave me plenty of Fiber.She cut out all the Oils and replaced these with "Ghee"(Clarified Butter) in controlled amounts as this was healthier than Oil.She also replaced the Iodised Salt with Sea Salt or White Rock Salt---lesser amounts of Sodium and richer in Potassium-----to help reduce the Water retention.She banned White Sugar,White Bread,Cakes and such from my Diet totally---instead including Skim Milk,Jaggery or Honey,popped Amaranth or toasted Sesame Seed Brittle,Dates, Raisins and Dried Figs and Apricots(Khubaani/Jardaalu) instead of the Sweets-----in small quantities every 2 hourly so as to avoid bingeing.The emphasis was on lots of Green Leafy Vegetables,Fresh Fruits,thin Buttermilk and fresh Yoghurt.The Meditation was tough----controlling the Mind is not easy---in fact it's well nigh impossible.A friend of mine---Shashi Tai---is a Yoga Teacher-----and she told me to begin Meditation by first counting the number of Breaths taken by me---then to concentrate on the Air going in and out of my nostrils---and finally to fit in a "Mantra"(Religious Chant)into the rhythm of my breathing.The easiest was "AUM"------which really worked wonders!!!!!It was a very slow process----my mind slowly began expriencing calm--little by little---- this helped me to relax and unwind.I used these sessions as periods of Introspection to come to terms with and acknowledge my own faults,to accept them as they were without giving any justifications for my actions and finally to leave them behind on my onward journey-----my deep unshakeable Faith in The Almighty helped too.
I came down from 100+kgs. to 78kgs and remained set on it till my Cancer Treatment---unfortunately I was put on Arimidex(Anastrozole) and later after my Heart Attack on Nolvadex(Tamoxifen) which is keeping my weight at 82kgs-----as long as it stays stationary for the remaining two years of Medication I couldn't ask for more!!!
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