Sunday, September 19, 2010
My parents were among the first few married couples in Chandigarh---that's why they were among the first few couples to get a house alloted to them out of the few first ones built in Sector 22.From here they moved up the ladder to another one in Sector 16---where we stayed till mid 1960----and we then moved to Sector 7A and there we stayed put till 1973---when they left to go to Mauritius.
My mother came from an extremely protected background into a totally alien one.In 1952 she married and travelled to the cold climate of Shimla----erstwhile Summer Capital of India---where the initial office of the Chandigarh team was based---from there she lived in tents on the Site for awhile as well.Though my Grandparents---Aaji and Aazoba were pretty modern for the period----the atmosphere she was catapulted into was totally opposite the one she'd been raised in!!!An extremely beautiful woman---and delicate---my father was a perfect foil to her beauty.Tall,well built and handsome---he dwarfed her---though she was taller than the average Indian woman.She was flung into the Club Culture of the early post Independence Era---she also learnt to speak a mixture of Hindi-Urdu---spoken in the Punjab of those days.Though she spoke very good English---she was in her final year B.A from Wilson College at Chowpatty and returned later to complete her degree----it was still difficult for her to absorb the ways of the Raj---Indians specially in the Chic Circles suffered a huge hang over of the British Raj Culture those days.Dressing for Dinner and wearing make-up was another new thing she learnt.She also had to overcome her basic shyness and absorb the new type of modern sophistication Daddy liked.
My father was an Architect who had lived and studied at Oxford and worked for awhile in Britain before he returned and was deeply influenced by people like Maxwell Fry,Jane Drew,Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret----he got the chance to work with and come close to each of them.According to him sharp clear cut lines and utility value of each object was the main base for it's beauty----she loved the conventional flowery type of Crockery and Furnishings---he wanted plain white Crockery and Solid coloured Furnishings---she slowly accepted his sense of aesthetics!!I grew up in huge Government Bungalows mosly with White Walls around me---and today don't want a single white wall in my home!!!In defiance I today buy the most Flowery printed Crockery that I can find---'coz I love it---and even today I hear Daddy speaking up in my head---"Komali---THAT???" and I look around guiltily----some things stick with you!!!
She herself was an excellent seamstress and very good at various types of Embroidery----Knitting,Crochetting and Tatting were her other hobbies----she was extremely fast in completing the projects she undertook---she'd make our Sweaters within 2-3 days---her speed of moving the Crochet or the Knitting Needles really fascinated me---I could watch the graceful beauty with which her supple hands moved swiftly to and fro for hours on end!!Mummy loved the Indian Handlooms---she had a collection of Saries from almost all the Indian States and varieties available----I loved all of her beautiful Silks----and their colours!!!A veritable Rainbow resided in her closet----she loved and wore all colours----her fair colouring was a perfect foil for them!!Mummy was a terrible housekeeper!!She depended solely on the staff she employed to run the house----keeping track of daily expenses was something she didn't much like----and it was only because she was blessed with reliable and honest Staff that we survived----unscrupulous people would've literally taken them for a ride!!!My mother was an awesome Cook---and proud to be one!!Her Dinner Parties were talked of for days afterwards in our small community----she had endless Patience when it came to cooking---everything had to be perfectly just so---all 3 of us have inherited that aspect of her personality.
Both my Parents adored each othet---and showed it openly!!!They were both innocent Babes in the Woods in handling Money----they could have saved so much---for Daddy had a very handsome Salary---but they never budgetted their expenses---instead were proud that they managed to live within it!!!We never lacked for anything---living like Princesses----they never let us feel their tension in any form.Today all 3 of us live according to our budgets---we don't scrimp or save but neither do we squander away our resources unnecessarily like they did---but they were lucky too----for God looked after Mummy after Daddy's death---she never wanted for anything as long as she lived!!
Daddy had a Honesty hang up---there were certain idiosyncrasies he had in those values.For instance we could enter his Study only when he was there---otherwise he kept it locked and carried the Keys with him---the number of times he lost them and the locks had to be broken open was countless!!!The reason behind this was that all the Stuff in there came from Government stock----expensive Drawing Paper,Staedler Pencils,Pastel Colours, Rubbers,Paints---he didn't want us using any of it---he'd buy us our own and to ensure that there were no accidents that room always remained locked!!!
Both my Parents were very headstrong and strong willed---literally quarreled like the proverbial Cat and Dog---but once the Storm was over theyd be cootchie cooing away again!!!As children we were given the security of a pair of Parents who loved each other---so these quarrels never bothered us---in fact we'd look askance at them if a day went by without a single spat!!!Daddy was extremely methodical and Mummy just the opposite----every Sunday the "Dhobi" or Washerman would arrive with freshly washed and ironed Laundry---this was when Mummy'd start hunting for the Diary where the number and descriptions of the Clothes given to the wash were written.We'd wait for the spat to start---thanks to her carelessness the Diary would take a long time being found---and Daddy'd start bellowing at the top of his voice---he had a very hot Temper---using choicest Swear words from Kolhapur---and after seeing the Dhobi off Mummy'd join issue---we ensured ringside seats fo ourselves---watching the Fun!!!It would end when both of them ran out of Steam---and within 5 minutes the situation would be like nothing had happened at all!!!Once Daddy decided that enough was enough---and he placed the Diary carefully---only flaw in this was that he forgot where he'd kept it---and it was discovered years later in the Storeroom behind Daddy's heavy Port Manteau when they were packing for Mauritius!!
Today I must admit that I miss those days---a secure childhood lays the foundation of a happy and confident adulhood---and I thank them both for giving us that base.Daddy and I had a very good relationship but Mummy was another kettle of Fish altogether---we were constantly at daggers drawn----too alike in Nature perhaps---so we mutually agreed to disagree!!Here however I must say one main thing in her favour---Daddy was very lucky to get a supportive wife like her----she stood firmly like a rock behind him in each decision he took---whether or not she agreed with him!!!