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Himalayan Memories

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Himalayas have been a constant presence in my life----living very near their Foothils they have fascinated me since babyhood!!!The Shivaliks were a constant attraction each morning I woke---I had to satisfy myself daily that those misty,purple Stalwarts hadn't taken off during the night---till I was almost 6 years old.
Besides my Nanny,Amma was a "Pahadi" or Hill Woman---hailing from the Mahaasu District of Chhota Shimla----she belonged to Sabatthoo---a tiny village near Shimla----often the Bedtime Stories she told me were populated by Nymphs and Demi-Gods living in the mysterious Lakes in the higher reaches of the Himalan Peaks!!Not just that---every evening the rays of the setting Sun would set the Slopes ablaze---they'd turn into a blaze of Light---reflecting from the myriad Window Panes catching those setting Rays!!It used to be an amazing sight to behold for a child who believed in the Fairies,Elves and Magic!!
This beautiful Blaze would gradually dim as Dusk descended---and tiny magical Lights would start twinkling in the approaching Darkness---looking like a carpet of Stars laid on the Slopes!!!On Moonlit nights the dark outline of the Mountains towered in the Horizon---deep,dark,mysteriously brooding---but infinitely dear---my own---to be hugged close to my heart!!They became my Best Friends and my closest Confidantes----there was no secret thought of mine that they were not aware of!!!
Going up to them---walking on their Slopes filled me with a heady Exhiliaration----I imagined that they welcomed me and embraced me with love---and that I belonged with them!!!All those sparkling Brooks babbling merrily down the Ravines and the Scent of the Deodars and the Pines---all would rush to greet me---specially when we travelled to the higher heights of places like Shimla,Mussoorie, Dalhousie,Dharamsala,Nainital,Sarahan-----it broke my heart to leave them behind!!!
For 13 years now my beloved Himalayas and me haven't met---I lie back and close my eyes to be transported back to their Scents and Vistas,Pines and Firs----or I feast my eyes on Pictures like these----The Himalayas in all their Glory!!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PARM01 2/5/2011 1:54AM

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Loved your blog!!!!There is magic in your writing.Thanks for sharing!!!!! emoticon

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EACHDAYAGIFT 2/4/2011 1:01PM

    How beautiful! I pictured you like Maria at the opening of the Sound of Music!

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BOVEY63 2/4/2011 12:49PM

    What beautiful pictures and memories - the sun sets sound so amazing to see.


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SAASHA17 2/4/2011 10:52AM

    they are pretty places. I want to go again:(

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ATMANI 2/4/2011 8:19AM

    How wonderful! Thanks for sharing your memories. You have a way of making them come alive to the readers.

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Mummy and Me--2!!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

From Mummy I learnt to be precise in everything I did---Cooking,Sewing,Knitting---I'm extremely proud of my neatness and presentation!!Thanks to her I became a highly efficient Home Maker---in fact I honed it to become as perfect as possible!!!I also learnt from her mistakes---both Daddy and she were spendthrifts---and because of that they never managed to save as much as they could have.I taught myself to spend within reasonable limits---I'm a spendthrift too but much better than my Parents were!!!
My Parents were a devoted Couple---deeply in love with each other----and that gave all three of us a very secure base during our childhood---whatever their worries they always made us feel safe!!!In 1976 Mummy moved out of our home into her own Flat in South Bombay---and Sudhir and I began living just by ourselves in earnest.Mummy too became involved in her new life----and because we both lived in Bombay----I would visit her for dayspends---Sudhir would drop the girls and me there on Saturday mornings and pick us up at Tea time-----I rarely stayed the night!!In fact it was mostly Mummy and my sisters who'd come over to stay----because it suited all of us better that way!!By now both my sisters were working.Despite her wanting the Girls over for visits---this happened very rarely--that too only when Sudhir had work in The Supreme Court in New Delhi and I went along---Sudhir felt that our children were wholly and solely our responsibility---both our Mothers had brought their kids up and didn't need to be saddled with ours too!!!
Mummy belonged to a large Family and was very close to her family---specially her mother and her younger sister.In fact she was an exemplary daughter to my Aaji----till Aaji passed away.Mummy had no idea of budgeting---that was what the two of us would bicker over----she'd have loved to have the freedom to spank me as she did when I was younger---specially in 1985 and 1986---when my sisters were getting married!!That was when I made out a Budget---and insisted she go according to it---which incensed her tremendously!!!She hated carrying those Lists around--so I'd carry them----and ensure that she got the best of whatever she wanted---accomplished thanks to Bombay's Speciality Shopping Areas---great Stuff at Wholesale prices!!Cooking Utensils,Gifts and various other Trousseau Items---all fit into the Budget---gaining pleased approval from the Grooms Relatives--and getting me a grudging approval from her AFTER the second Wedding in 1986!!!
After that she lived more or less with me---Sudhir and I preferred that because she was a Diabetic too.She however would feel restricted because she was an extremely social person---having been born and brought up in Bombay---and she enjoyed the freedom of being on her own!!!In 1987 she accompanied us on our Summer Vacation---we made a Pilgrimage to the holiest of the Holy Hindu Spots in the Himalayas---The Chaar Dhaam Yatra---which took us to the sources of the two Sacred Rivers--Ganga(Ganges) and Yamuna---and Kedarnath(abode of Lord Shiva) and Badrinath(Abode of Lord Vishnu)-----which she was very happy about!!!Later Ritu and her husband returned to stay with her due to Ritu's husband's Health Problems---and after Ritu's divorce in 1991 she continued to live with Mummy.
Mummy and Ritu stayed with us during the preparations of our older daughter--Lotta's marriage---mainly in the period between 1992 and 1993---when Bombay was engulfed in Riots---a miserable time for us.Luckily the Wedding was on 14th.February1993----and a semblance of normalcy had returned to the City by then.Then our Grand daughter Meha's birth on 23rd.1994 was the high point for her---she was just 63 years old---and a Great Grandma---I still have Photographs of 5 generations of us---an unbroken line of 5 oldest daughters of each generation---Aaji,Mummy,me,Lotta and Meha----a beautiful Memory!!Mummy's Health began deteriorating after 2003 and in 2008 she suffered a massive Heart Attack that immobilised the right side of her heart---she was lucky to retain the use of all her Senses and mobility----only she tired easily and had trouble breathing.She existed on Oxygen for most of 24 hours----hating it with a passion!!My only regret is that she lived to see a bad attack of Dengue that I suffered in 2002,then my Breast Cancer in Dec.2006 and finally my Heart Attack in Feb.2009,the Death of Mikki's husband in January 2009, and finally Ritu's Uterine Cancer in June 2009!!!
I loved Mummy---the umbilical tie was very strong and till 2006 was a good daughter to her----but faced with my own diminished physical strength I was relieved to shift the mantle to Ritu for the last three and a half years of her life.I consider her lucky to have been blessed with 3 daughters who cared for her throughout her life after Daddy passed away---and though she had a very good Pension from the Government,all 3 of us insured she never lacked for Money or those amenities she was accustomed to---nor was she lonely for she had a large social circle and later was well connected by Phone!!!She had her own personal Caregivers---who ensured her healthy Diet and supervised her Medicines and Bath---looking after her needs with loving concern and she was content with the people who cared for her---her biggest problem was her immobility---from which she was released on 9th.January 2010---exactly a year after Mikki's husband Kiran's death.
This is my Tribute to my Mother--who was more my Friend than my Mother---may her Soul rest in Peace!!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EACHDAYAGIFT 2/3/2011 5:07PM

    I would love to see that picture of the 5 generations.

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ANITAS66 2/3/2011 2:20PM

    There are so many songs on mother and daughter. such beautiful is the bond between them. It's nice that you have such wonderful memories of you two emoticon

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BOVEY63 2/3/2011 12:37PM

    Lovely tribute!
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SAASHA17 2/3/2011 11:46AM

    She sounds amazing. Thanks for the wonderful stories about ur mum.
:) emoticon

Manasa

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ATMANI 2/3/2011 10:16AM

    Nice Tribute!

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Mummy and Me---1!!!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

It's really odd---Mummy passed away last year when I was 56 years old---and Daddy when I was 21 years old---yet I miss Daddy far more than her!!I guess that both of us being female and headstrong as well---could've been the cause!!!
Daddy died in 1974----on October 15th. and Mummy returned from Mauritius---- where he was on Deputation---with his Ashes to Mumbai.Milind immediately insisted that she live with us---we were in a Joint Family then---and she agreed---but only till the Flat she'd taken was ready.My younger sisters were just 17 years old and 14 years old respectively and were glad of all the Family support.In 1975 we shifted to our present Flat and Mummy shifted with us.
When I had been a child Mummy had a whole posse of Domestics including Amma--our very efficient Nanny----who literally taught Mummy the basic ropes of being a mother.Those days the Children were reared by the Staff---and my Britain returned Father stuck to all the British Traditions like dressing for Dinner etc.----which has always amazed me because he was a staunch Patriot!!!Mummy too had been asked to use Make-Up and dress according to the latest fashions of the Day----something that she'd never done earlier---for according to my Aaji--all four of her daughters were exquisitely beautiful and their Roses and Cream complexions needed no embelishments whatsoever!!However Mummy began using all the trappings for the atmosphere in the early days after Independence was still hung over from the British Raj----and the Social Rules remained stuck right there!!!
My parents entertained a lot---our Cook would cook fabulous Continental and Indian Food----Mummy was an excellent Cook too but her forte was baking the Biscuits,Pastries and Cakes for our Tea Time treats---still remember the Silver Teapot and Bone China Tea Service she presided over!!!Time passed and our Family grew---with two more sisters being added to it---and Mummy continued doing the "Mem Sahib" stuff---membership of the Red Cross Volunteer Service,Kitty Parties,Tea Parties---a result of this was that I was brought up mainly by Amma---Mummy hovered somewhere on the periphery of life in those early days---involved but somewhat not involved in my day-to-day life.By now the Indianisation of my parents had begun----the workload had increased as Chandigarh grew---and our workoholic Father would leave before we woke and return after we slept!!Mummy became more involved with running the household as the Social Activities reduced---despite her own Social Commitments.Mummy reverted to wearing Saris rather than her Salwar-Kameezes though she continued to wear her Make-up and sleeveless Sari Blouses---she had a beautiful Collection of these from all over India and impeccable taste---I was very proud of the way Mummy looked---like something out of a Movie!!Daddy too took to wearing a traditional Kurta-Pyjama instead of a Nightsuit and Dressing Gown and both became more accessible as we grew older---and we as a family began to gel!!!
Unfortunately we weren't close---she was closer to my sisters---both Mikki--born a Blue baby and Ritu who suffered an Encephalitis attack when she was a year old---were more in contact with her.Not that I minded---I liked the fact that I was mostly left to my own devices---except on those occasions when she'd spank me---with her Bedroom Slipper---but I must honestly admit---it was well deserved 99% of the occasions!!Later Amma left to nurse her ailing father in her village---and I became my own person---I was 13.My beloved Aazoba had passed away in 1964 when I was 11 years old---and with Amma leaving I built a shell around me---I had lost both my Confidantes!!By now Mummy and the Nuns of my School forced me to learn Knitting and Needle Craft---and unwillingly at first but as I got the hang of---willingly then passionately---I took to those Skills like a duck to Water!!!Even today Knitting is my favourite pastime---the steady clickety- clack of the Needles helps me destress and sort myself out!!
Daddy and I had been closer than Mummy and me---our interests too were similar----he taught me to live---to love Nature,to observe People and to express my feelings through the Words I wrote---if People enjoy what I write---it is because he encouraged me constantly!!Today I am what I am because unconsciously I moulded myself on him!!After his death,Mummy and I became Friends---woman to woman---but I was never the daughter she was actively involved with.Mikki and Ritu were still young and needed her support far more than me---a married woman with two daughters of my own!!!However it was with her enouragement and support that I learnt to cook the Traditional Dishes like Biryani,Rogan Josh,Kababs and other famous Mughalai Specialities like a professional Chef---as well as all our Traditional Konkani and Kolhapuri fare.I became a Seamstress who could sew a pretty seam and began stitching my daughters Dresses till they began buying the "Hep" stuff---that's when I stopped!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CRAZYGAL281182 2/5/2011 7:39PM

    I just loved reading your blog :) thanx for sharing

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PARM01 2/3/2011 12:17AM

  Thanks for sharing----

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BOVEY63 2/2/2011 1:20PM

    I so love reading about your life!
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MAGIK0731 2/2/2011 11:47AM

    Thanks for the read...always a delight!

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SAASHA17 2/2/2011 11:35AM

    I was about to type what Rainey said. hehehe I do start feeling all emotional and then I read about the cakes, buns , what not and Now I am hungry...grrr...thanks a lot buddy:P

Manasa

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RAIN454 2/2/2011 10:45AM

    A common theme I'm noticing with all your nostalgic blogs is that I start off tearing up from the emotional journey of your life and how I can relate it to mine in some way and then end the blog feeling....REALLY HUNGRY!!! thanks, Komal (and that WAS sarcasm).
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Another great blog though. Thanks for sharing. Cant imagine dressing up for dinner every night...thats really interesting and a lovely memory. Okay, back to being hungry... :)


Comment edited on: 2/2/2011 10:46:52 AM

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ATMANI 2/2/2011 8:51AM

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Yester Years!!!

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!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EACHDAYAGIFT 2/3/2011 3:50PM

    I'm guessing you both ate something very salty the day before and were retaining water, or a change in temperature caused the wood to expand. Reminds me of the time I , for some unfathomable reason, decided to slide my finger through the opening in one of my brother's plastic train tracks and it got stuck. I was about twelve, so it was very embarrassing to try to answer my father's, "What on earth did you do that for?" . I still do foolish things that I should have been old enough to know better, many decades ago!!!

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BOVEY63 2/1/2011 1:37PM

    Poona sounds like Eden - so beautiful!
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Loved the hand story!
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SAASHA17 2/1/2011 11:40AM

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Golden,Olden Days!!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

These days I seem to be stuck in the Past---a sure sign of my Ageing really fast!!So many incidents come to mind----that I'm literally spoilt for choice!!!The one that's really catching hold of my mind is a funny one---concerning my father-in-law.He was a true Foodie---and loved to eat different types of Food---only he didn't eat Meat or Poultry---only Fish.
One of my paternal aunts---Atya's first cousin--- had a beautiful Bungalow in Shivaji Nagar ---a suburb of Poona.Baba used to rent it for the Summer---Poona those days was a sleepy Pensioners Retreat---very green with an even temprature ideal place to be throughout the hot Summer.Besides it was easily accessible both by Road and Train.Watered by two Rivers,The Mula and The Mutha it had been the Capital of the Peshwas and Marathas---full of Character and History. Today it is a funny mix of the ancient and the new---the old World hob nobs with the modern World of Computer Technology.
Once in Poona,Baba would set out for his morning walk followed by his brood of four children trailing after him.They'd walk to the other end of Town called "the Camp" because that was where the Cantonment came up in the late 1700s---the British camped there and till today it retains that name.Here there is a legendary Bakery named "Kayanis"---famous for it deliciously Fresh Breads---mainly Buns called "Bun Paao"----a very soft and melting Bread---sold out by 8a.m.---8.30 a.m.---very much in demand even today!!
The routine was to buy batches of the freshly baked Buns,still warm from the Oven and packets of Fresh Butter----a treat to be enjoyed as soon as they reached home after their morning walk.Now one day it so happened that Milind---Sudhir's older brother, was hungry.Baba handed him the packet of Buns and the Entourage set out on the way back home.There was a lot oflaughter and wisecracks flying around but no one noticed Milind trailing behind---all by himself!!!The reason for this was that he'd begun dipping into the packet and eating his way steadily through the Fresh Buns----and by the time they reached home---had munched through most of the Buns!!!Sudhir still laughs at the look on Baba's face when he found out---apart from fuming there was nothing that he could do-----for true to their reputation the Buns would be sold out by the time they got back to the Bakery!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MILLISMA 1/31/2011 1:54PM

    Komal, I love your memories. I hope you write these down for you family. They are to be cherished.

hugs...Mary Anne

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SAASHA17 1/31/2011 1:37PM

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BOVEY63 1/31/2011 1:27PM

    I enjoy it when you're stuck in the past - your stories are so fun to read.
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