Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Being the eldest Grandchild from my Mother's side had loads of Advantages----besides the fact that Atya and Baba were twice related to me was a Bonus!!!While Atya was Daddy's oldest sister,Baba was my Granduncle---my Aaji's younger brother---so in that house I wielded loads of Power!!! As a child I spent most of my Holidays away from my parents---there was such a large army of Aunts and Uncles to pamper me that I hated going back to Chandigarh----because once home the remonstrations and scoldings would start in full force!!!
I was an extremely naughty and mischievous child---I wouldn't have liked to have a daughter like me!!My mind was a fountain of new Ideas---all irritating and exasperating to poor Mummy!!
Aazoba built a beautiful Bungalow in Poona---a huge sprawling one designed by Daddy with a very large Garden.A friend of his and he had together bought a huge piece of land and then sub divided it---with Aazoba retaining the rear portion of the plot. As a result of this the Bungalow was very quiet and private---a Pensioner's Dream---and a long curved Driveway led one to the House----shaded throughout by Mango Trees,Jamun trees and a beautiful "Bakula" Tree laden with the beautiful fragrant tiny Beige Flowers in bloom!!!The huge Garden was a Fairyland---filled with many varieties of Fragrant Flowers---various Jasmines,climbing Roses in Pink,Cream and Pale Yellow,a "Chaapha" Tree with Golden Flowers spreading their heady perfume and best of all a "Surangi" or Orange Blossom Tree!!!There were medicinal Trees like the "Neem" or Margosa Tree,Fruit Trees like two varieties of Guavas,Papayas,Figs,"Papanas" which is a type of Grapefruit and "Kokum" or Mangosteen Tree and not to forget the different variety of Palms----Coconut,Date as well as Ice Apple or Palmyra---a veritable Treasure Trove and a cool haven in the Summer Heat.There were creepers of Morning Glory and Bougainvilla as well as the "Krishna Kamal" Flowers and "Raat Rani"both an open invitation for Snakes---mainly Cobras---hence out of bounds for us while playing in the Garden!!The Garden was a tangle of Creepers,Bushes and Trees---Aazoba liked the untidiness of it as he felt that the Riot of Nature had it's own poetic charm!!!
Aazoba was the head of a large Joint Family and this Bungalow always was stuffed to the Gills with People.There were always a minimum of 20-25 people living here----at any given point of time.My great Grandma---Ba-Aaji --lived with her oldest son as did his youngest sister-in-law---Mami Bai Kaki, a widow--and her four children.Of these four, my Aunt Bina was the youngest---and just 15 months older than me!!This made her my playmate and favourite companion and many are the scrapes I led her into----for which she willingly took the rap because being older,the Elders felt,she should've known better!!This Bungalow had a huge solid and heavy Front Door carved from the famous Shisham Wood---the hinges were of solid Brass----and there were some gaps between the Door Frame and the Door.
One day I gingerly slid my hand through one of these gaps----it passed through easily!!!Emboldened by this I asked Bina to slide her hand through it too---which too happened.This quickly became a game for the two us---sliding our hands through the gaps and shaking them through the gaps---giggling all the while!!We'd play this game for hours seated on the Floor on either side of the Door---and Mummy heaved a sigh of Relief ----very happy that instead of getting into scrapes I spent time sitting by the Front Door---playing peacefully---only she didn't know at what!!!All good things have to come to an end---this did too!!One day I don't know how---our fingers got stuck---try as we might--those fingers wouldn't come unstuck----though we laboured silently for more than an hour!!This was when both of realised that we'd be there forever---and began howling loudly in earnest!!This brought Mami Bai Kaki and Aaji post haste to us---shocked to see our plight----thankfully for me though Mummy had gone shopping!!!The Carpenter was summoned post haste and he unscrewed the Hinges and we finally were released from that uncomfortable state---both suffering from swollen fingers and a bad case of Pins and Needles---some three hours after we got stuck!!!Both of us sat there,feeling very sorry for ourselves with our fingers swollen and painful while being severely and roundly scolded by Aaji and Mami Bai Kaki!!!Bina got off lightly compared to me---because Mummy spanked me so soundly on her return home that I had trouble sitting on my Butt for 4-5 days after that---besides one hand too being out of circulation for awhile!!!Till date both Bina and I can't fathom what went wrong so badly to get both of us stuck---the Mystery remains!!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Yesterday was India's 62nd. Republic Day----and the beautiful vista of the City Lutyens built lay basking in the Winter Sunshine!!!Attending these Celebrations in person was a dream that so far hasn't been fulfilled---and as Time runs out fast--it never will be!!However thanks to the improved Powers of Communication the next best thing is sitting at home and seeing it live on T.V.---and of course the warm and cosy comfort of avoiding the biting,shivering Cold if the morning is grey and foggy in Delhi!!!
This brings to mind my biggest regret as a child---of being a girl---hence could not enlist in the Army----though my inspipiration was The Rani of Jhansi---a Warrior Queen who fought against the British in 1857's War of Independence---termed by them as "The Mutiny"!!To negate the fact of being an "Abala" or weak female, I became a Tomboy---lifting weights,climbing Trees and generally gaining an ability in Athletic tastes and prowess--anything Boys could do I could do better!!!Being an active participant of Athletic Team in School,climbing up into the higher branches of the sturdy Neem(Margosa) and Mango Trees in the Garden was my Passion with a capital P---many are the idyllic hours that I spent sitting in the fork created by broad branches of my favourite Trees---swaying gently with the Wind and feeling like some Fairy Queen---surveying the World so far below me from my lofty perch!!I loved the Solitude---the peace and quiet away from my mother's constant admonishments and my siblings' bickering was God sent---and so this is where I spent entire days in my Winter and Summer Vacations---being confined to the house only when it rained---how I hated that!!!
Not just that--I became an Outdoors person---accompanying Daddy on his treks in the Mountains-----this made me strong and wiry and despite being so thin and slender I could lift the equivalent of my body weight with ease!!The Solace of the Mountains---replete with Forest and Pine scented Air, the perfume of heady Wild Flowers,the soft babble of the Brooks and Streams and eating the wafer thin Sandwiches for Lunch on the banks of a clear Stream---seated under the shade of a shady Tree in Summer---or soaking in the warm Sunshine seated on a warm Rock or Boulder on sunny days in Winter----the Serenity of the scene was heavenly!!Daddy taught me so many things about Nature----one of our favourite pastimes was to lie back under the deep Blue Sky---and look for different shapes in the Clouds sailing above us in companionable silence---broken only to excitedly point out a Dragon or an Elephant or some other Cloud formation in the Sky!!On most of these jaunts we'd also be accompanied by Jeanneret Uncle---the younger cousin of Le Corbusier---and then we'd also discuss the names of the many Wild Flowers that grew profusely around us.He was a fount of Information and he taught me to listen to the Bird Calls in the Forests and identify them correctly----he also got me expensive and informative Books as Gifts during his European Holidays home---a world of information about the different species of Trees,Birds, Flowers and Regions----he took great paternal Pride in my geekiness as well!!
We lived near the Raj Bhavan---the Governor's Residence---and I simply loved being awakened by the Bugle each morning---as the National Flag was hoisted up and would wait with bated breath for the notes of the Bugle again each evening signalling the Flag down----can still recall the magic of those silvery notes dissolving in the descending Dusk----treasured moments for me even today!!
Till August 1965,War was a romantic thing---but I saw the vicious ugliness of it when Mummy volunteered in the Red Cross that year.She was a member of the Volunteers who went daily to the Hospitals to help out with the Nursing of these wounded Soldiers---and since they needed to send letters home, the older children like me were drafted in too----strong men reduced to to scraps of humanity----it left a very deep and lasting effect on my 12 year old mind!!!I've written letters home for some who were missing an arm or a leg---but there were those who had lost both arms or legs and worse still---all their limbs completely!!It was their cheerful Fortitude that jolted me and taught me to see beyond my narrow walls---it taught me the meaning of Life and Living---this lesson firmed my Spirit and today so many years later I still following that lesson I learnt then---Life is never fair so one must always take the blows dealt out by Fate on the chin and accept the inevitable with Fortitude.Only by accepting it can one really come to terms with Reality and move forward---because till The Almighty decrees our Deaths we have to live---and doing so with a smile is the only way to do it!!!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
This morning I got such a wonderful surprise!!!On my Spark Page and on my Face Book Profile I was delighted to discover these "Beautiful Woman" Awards----7 in all---and I was so happy that I ACTUALLY blushed!!!I am very deeply honoured and touched by the Love and Affection bestowed on me by my Friends---but don't know whether I really deserve this!!!A very heartfelt "Thank You" to you all!!
There are many to whom I too want to say this----Friends whom I've never met---whose voices I've never heard---but their sentiments and thoughts have found an echo in my heart and mind---and who have grown to be true Soulmates---people with whom I can truly be myself---without any artifice!!As a child I had many Pen Friends from all over the Globe---but these SP Friends of mine are far more accessible than those----they're literally just a click away!!!This relationship is a Bond--one that has insidiously wound it's way into my heart and become an integral part of my life---I really miss it so when the stupid servers are down---that's when I resemble a fat,well fed Cat pacing gingerly on a hot Tin Roof!!
The last week has been a bit hectic---getting settled in always is--specially once one is back home!!!Getting the Bags unpacked,Gifts dispensed,Closets tidied,Groceries replenished,Bags stowed away-----a million tiring,irritating but very necessary chores---a little trouble ensures a smoother routine!!Add to that a very dear Festival---Makar Sankranti---dedicated to the bounty of Mother Earth---in dispensing a good Winter Harvest of Chick Peas,Ground Nuts,Sugarcanes,Carrots,wild,sour Berries,tiny Sesame Seed Balls made with roasted Sesame Seeds in Jaggery Syrup called "Til Laddus"-----all ceremoniously filled in small Red Clay Pots decorated with daubs of Sandalwood Paste,Turmeric Powder and Red Kum Kum Powder---worshipped with great reverence and distributed to 5,7,9,11 "Suhaagans" or married women---various numbers in various households!!We arrived early morning on the 14th.of January---this Festival took place on the 15th. of January----I had left cash and a shopping list with my trusty Vanita---and so was all set for it---only drawback being the Jet lag!!!
I am really grateful to God for having granted me such wonderful Domestic Helpers Chhaaya Bai,Vanita,Hira Bai---all three of these ladies is worth their weight in Gold!!We came back to a sparkling clean,well aired home with the Beds spread with freshly laundered Sheets and freshly made home cooked Food ready to heated up as and when needed!!!The next morning all of them reported for duty at 10 a.m. sharp---and by noon the Bags were unpacked and stowed away-----everything went smoothly!!!My grand daughter was wondering why we need to go back to India---specially when she's not there!!Guess the answer is that we're too addicted to our creature comforts and too old to learn new tricks----an unfortunate fact!!!
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