Surfing through the You Tube is fast becoming my addiction----and I've re-acquainted myself with many old Favourites--all part of my childhood and youth!!As a child Bollywood Films were not very easily accessible to us--because Chandigarh then had only one Theater--The Kiran theater in Sector 22--and each Film would stick around for at least 6-10 weeks!!Besides we children would be allowed to see only Mythological Films because the other Films were considered "corruptive" Material in that conservative Era!!Therefore though curiosity about those Films did prevail it was way beyond our reach to see these Films in Chandigarh.
At the time of Mikki's birth we spent six months in Bombay--for my mother had very difficult preganancies so we'd been brought to Bombay by my maternal Grandfather Aazoba.Those were the best six months of my childhood--because I was pampered by everyone around and I'm sorry to say that taking advantage of that I played a brat to the hilt----and was indulged too despite that!!That's when I was introduced to the wonders of Bollywood Films--and I was hooked!!
I spent most of my time at Sudhir's home--his father Baba was my Grand Uncle--my maternal Grandma---Aaji's younger brother and his mother Atya was my father's older sister and therefore I was spoilt silly in that house!! Both Baba and Atya were very fond of Marathi plays and Marathi/Hindi/English Films---and they'd take all of us along to see these.At the age of four I was exposed to some awesome Marathi Sangeet Nataks or Operas featuring greats like Bal Gandharva and others--but being too young I'd fall asleep during the performances---the only thing that I loved was the Music!!Kunda--Sudhir's elder sister and her friend Pushpa were allowed to see Films with their group of friends--being 15 years older than me--and that entire group would cart me along to see Bollywood Films--and it is then that I really fell in love with the various aspects of Films--mainly the Music!!!The fact that I screamed Blue Murder during the fight sequences is another story--for I thought that those scenes were real---and I made a thorough nuisance of myself during those!!Each time before Kunda and her Friends took me to a Film they made me promise not to cry during the Fight Scenes--I'd promise but promptly forget when these started and kick up a ruckus!!Thanks to Baba I got to see all of Walt Disney's Classics--Snow White,Cinderella,Sleeping Beauty,the Jungle Book and the rest.Besides I also got to see beautiful Films of Danny Kaye and Alfred Hitchcock---and actors like Gregory Peck and James Stewart became my favourites!!He bought me records of my favourite Songs from Walt Disney's films as well plenty of Comics of Superman and The League of Super Heroes and like I said I went back to my sleepy little Town well educated about a lot of things!! By now I had two favourite Indian heroes as well--Dev Anand and Shammi Kapoor---and both the heroes were very particular of the Music in their Films--taking a personal interest during the Sound Recording of these Songs.So what had been just the Radio now became a means of connecting to that Dream World of films!!
As I grew up my parents began relenting a bit and I was allowed to go to Movies they approved of at the 2 Movie theaters we had now for Jagat Theater at Sector 17 had come up as well.One the Films I was allowed to see was "Chaudhavin kaa Chaand"--a film in Black and White with just the title Song filmed in colour--and from that day till today I became an undying Fan of Waheeda Rehman' ethereal Beauty---and she gained my respect too--for years later her son Sohail was a classmate of Sayali's at Bombay Scottish High School for awhile before they shifted to Bangalore.Sudhir too was a Movie fan--and after our marriage we both became regulars for the Friday Night Show at 9 p.m.!! His friend Nutan's father owned the Lotus Theater so Tickets were never a problem.Not just that Sudhir would buy Tickets in advance for many Films at the other Theaters as well and we rarely missed seeing any Film--English/Hindi/Marathi during the first week of it's screening!!We were regulars for Marathi plays too---enjoying the fabulous "Batata Vadaas" of bothSahitya Sangh in Girgaum and Shivaji Mandir at Dadar--both Theaters served excellent stuff with just the right spicy sting of Green Chillies in them!!During both my pregnancies Sudhir terrorised me by taking me first to "The Boston Strangler" during the first one and "The Cat O'Nine Tail;s" during the second---which gave at least a week of sleepless nights after that!!!The result of this?Lotta turned out to be a Ghoul--loving everything to do with the Supernatural and Sayali just the opposite--abhorring everything about Ghosts and stuff!!
After Lotta's birth we'd go to the Film with me holding Lotta and Sudhir holding a Carry Bag stuffed to the gills with Nappies and Milk bottles--both of us taking turns to walk in the foyer outside each time she cried--but we never missed a single screening!!This continued after Sayali's birth as well--for with both the girls Sudhir had one Policy--we were their parents and we'd take them along where ever we went!!After we moved to our new home the Movie Mania continued and by the time the Drive -In Theater at Bandra arrived we'd become a two kid two Dog family and Friday nights turned into Pic Nic nights.I'd cook Dinner for the four of us and our four legged kids and we'd drive down to the 7 p.m. Show at the Drive -In Theater.There we'd park near enough one of the Rest Rooms for it to be easily accessible for the Girls to use--and spread a Mat on the Bonnet of the Car during the Interval to eat our Dinner---those were really Fun times!!
However as the girls began growing up Cable became a rage--and placing the T.V. in our bedroom made watching Films even more comfortable in the comfort of our own home.So a new period began--that of hiring Films and pausing these whenever we wanted according to our convenience.Slowly the Theater going lessened--the flavour of the Movies changed and I guess we too grew old--till today we'd begun seeing Films only when they were telecast on T.V. and Channels like Hallmark,MGM,Warner Bros.,Turner Classics and HBO replaced our trips to the Theaters!!In the last few years Sudhir and I hadn't been inside a Theater--despite a lot of cajoling from Sayali and Meha and now I don't feel the urge to see the new Films--I can wait to see these on T.V.---where they end up soon enough!!And The You Tube connects me to my favourite Era in Films--that keeps me happily occupied for hours!!
Somehow it is always the small things that have the greatest impact--like the last Straw breaking the Camel's back!!!Similarly one can cope with the bigger Issues but it is the small ones that make their presence felt.Sudhir kept me cocooned in his protective embrace--keeping most of real Life at bay.For instance he'd do all the groundwork for my Doctors appointments--whether it was a GP, the Oncologist or the Cardiologist---even the Dentist---he'd set up all the Appointments and accompany me everywhere!!!Even to the extent of calculating the quantities of my various Medicines--for I swallow about 20 Tablets daily besides my Insulin Injections thrice everyday--he was the one who'd remember when to order the Medicines from our local Chemist.
For the first time in years last month I sat down and calculated the proportions of all the various Medicines I'm going to need for the next 4 months--for I travel to London on the 16th.March--from there to L.A. on the 24th April--back to London on 23rd.June and finally back home on the 9th.July---and ordered the same from my local Chemist.Not just that I made my own Appointments with all my Doctors and finished the Oncologist first last Monday--next it will be the Cardiologist this coming Monday-- the Opthalmologist this coming Wednesday--finally the Dentist next Saturday--which will keep me fit hopefully for the next four months.
Not just that----attending to the day to day matter of living like my Bank affairs and other such stuff is slowly something I'm beginning get the hang of.Previously I left all this to Sudhir--thinking that it was way over my head--but now as I'm beginning to do much of it by myself I feel sorry for having burdened him with a few things that I could easily have done on my own!!!
Today I'm a bit more confident of dealing with a lot things on my own and have already begun doing that by taking the first step all alone--for my days of being dependent are past and a new me will emerge with Time!!Like the Julie Andrews song from "The Sound of Music"---"-I have Confidence in ME!!"
Reading about an immature 24 year old in Manasa's Blog made me think---there is a thin line between being immature and childlike or childish.Immaturity shows a lack of sensitivity and understanding towards the World at large--- but even mature people can be children at heart--without compromising on their maturity.Sudhir and I had both traits in plenty--maybe that is why we could live with each other and bond--thanks to the necessary element of Fun!!
Sudhir's sense of Humour was very childish---he'd crack some silly PJs (Poor Jokes)--and double up laughing at his own joke--while I laughed because the sight of him sitting cross legged on the bed all doubled up--his eyes sparkling with mischief was funnier than the stupid joke he'd just cracked!!This incident took place way back---in early 1973.That night we had a party at our House--but since it was a Stag Party we women served Dinner and then went to bed after that.That night on T.V. in the news the death of a prominent Lawyer was announced--and it was someone both Milind and Sudhir knew pretty well. The next morning when we woke up he told me that he'd just had a dream--and in that dream he saw that one Baba's friends--a prominent Lawyer had passed away!!!As I was making Tea i heard Milind say that they'd be attending the funeral of the same person Sudhir dreamt of--and I was stunned!!I rushed into the Dining Room to tell the rest of the Family that Sudhir had dreamt of the tragedy---only to have all of them break into peals of Laughter--with Sudhir standing behind me-- grinning from ear to ear at how he made a fool out of me!!!
T.V. came to Bombay in 1972--and was confined to just 4 hours--6.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. each day.Also we had only the one Channel called "Door Darshan" and it was a Government Enterprise.Into those 4 hours we'd get multi lingual and varied Programs--the languages used were English,Hindi and Marathi.At 10.30 p.m. the Announcer would be back with a very sweet smile to wish us "Good Night"!!Every night Sudhir would call his older sister Kunda and ask her whether she'd seen the last Program on T.V. that night---and each time she'd bewilderedly ask "which one?" to which he'd promptly reply"Shut down" and crack up while she'd start laughing at her end too!!!This went on pretty long--I've a suspicion that she played dumb all along after the first instance just to keep her younger brother chuckling!!
Sudhir loved to tease me--his best form of irritating me!!Each time I blew my lid he'd sit back and chuckle---winking at our Girls who'd have preferred it otherwise--for once I got started I'd rake up incidents from the past--I'm blessed with an Elephant's memory--and one never knew where my tirade would end!!So this was one joke of Daddy's they did NOT like!!He also loved to startle me--hiding behind Doors and on top of Closets--just to say "Boo" and scare me.Now I don't scare that easy--and his face would fall each time I didn't react.Once however he got such a reaction that it cured him of startling me forever!!I had a penchant for moving around my Furniture very often--and in the 1980s the traditional Indian Look was very much the rage.So I'd gotten rid of our Sofas and heavy Furniture and substituted this with thick Cotton stuffed Mattresses set on the Floor covered with sheets of Traditional Indian Weaves.The Tables were two large round Brass Trays set on Wooden stands and the Mattresse had thick Bolsters to support the backs of those seated on these with lots of Cushions thrown in as well.We also had an ancient Gramophone with a Brass Horn that actually worked--as well as an old Brass Telephone from the early 1900s--which worked pretty well too!!It was truly a beautiful Room--with the Light filtering in through the Lace Curtains with Brass Plant Holders placed strategically in various positions to add patches of Greenery to it!!!Usually those days Sudhir came home by 8 p.m. in the evenings.One day I brought my Kitty Friends home after the Kitty Party because they wanted to see how it all looked---and I opened the Door with my Key.The first one to enter was my friend Kanta--who started screaming like a Banshee the moment she set foot inside the Door!!Reason???His Highness had arrived early that day and was lying in wait to scare me in the semi darkness surrounding the Front Door!!I don't know who was more scared or scandalized--Kanta or Sudhir!!!!Suffice to say that this incident put paid to his trying to startle me any more!!
Both Sudhir and I were children who never really grew up---and because of this enjoyed our lives--finding something to marvel at every day!!It could be a bright Moonlit night--the dark shapes of the Trees etched with Silver in the Garden--the elusive scent of Flowers whispering on the wet Breeze during the Monsoons--the wild beauty of a tropical Thunderstorm roaring and flashing in all it's glory by the Seaside--or just holding hands and listening to the pitter patter of Raindrops on the wet Earth below.We both loved the scent of the wet Earth that rose up to perfume the Air after the first Showers hit us after a hot,sultry Summer and watching the Birds circle and fly around in the huge Vegetable Garden next door.Winter and Summer we'd love to hear the noisy wake up call of the Birds early each morning--specially the dulcet notes of the Cuckoo in Summer--or "Koyal/Kokila" as that bird is called in India.We lived for and with each other--finding pleasure in small things--that are God's Gift to all of us--rather than Material Pleasures.I wish everyone keeps the child alive in our hearts--for just that gives us true Happiness!!!
I just read Manasa's Blog yesterday--and her Blog gave me a new Idea to Blog on so here I go.When Sudhir and I married on 11 October 1970 both of us were very thin--almost to the degree of being called emaciated---with hollow cheeks and bones sticking out prominently all over.Looking at us anyone would think that we survived on Air and Water----but in fact both of us possessed gargantuan appetites!!Our stomachs could be very easily described as "bottomless Pits" and the amount of Food we needed on a daily basis was simply awesome--to put it mildly.
As Newly Weds we were invited out for most Week-Ends for Dinners and one of these was to Sudhir's childhood friend and class mate Nitin's home.Nitin's father was a friend of Baba's--Sudhir's father--and both Nitin and Sudhir too were very close friends.Nitin and his wife Nalini had married a year earlier and we made up a regular foursome for Films and after Dinner drives together to enjoy Ice Cream or Kulfi at Chowpatty--South Bombay's famous Beach.Nitin's mother was known to be a fabulous Cook and so when we received the invitation we looked forward to enjoying a beautifully cooked Gujerati Meal.Those days Dinners used to be lavish---and extremely lavish if it was a Gujerati household.There would be so many courses that it would be impossible to finish the initial helpings and then move on to the seconds--and it would be served with a lot of love and insistence to add a little more of everything to one's plate.This loving insistence caused a lot of people to suffer from overeating---but not Sudhir and me!!
Finally on the appointed day we reached Nitin's Sea facing Flat and were ushered into the Drawing Room.On the way there I peeped into the Dining Room--and there saw the Table set with Silver "Thalis" or round Dinner Plates--Indian style-- with Silver "Katories" or individual Bowls arranged around the edges in a semi circular fashion. This made me look forward to the Meal in anticipation of all the delicacies that awaited us.The pre-Dinner welcome Drink was home made Lemonade followed by Mixed Vegetable Soup--for Nitin and his family were Vegetarians and then we moved on to the Dining Room--for Dinner.As we took our places at the round Dinner Table their domestic Staff began to serve the Courses.There were boiled Potatoes seasoned with "Chaat" Masala in one Bowl,boiled, salted Mung Sprouts in another,smoothly beaten Fresh Yoghurt in a third ,crisp fried tiny Chick Pea beads called "Bundi" in the fourth,Sweet Tamarind Chutney in the fifth and a fragrant Green coloured Liquid scented with Mint in the sixth and largest one!!!Large Silver salvers containing crisply fried tiny "Puries" or fried puffed Bread were placed evenly all round the center of the Table.It was a "Chaat" Party--and not the traditional Dinner we'd anticipated!!
Nalini had prepared everything at home---including the Poories which needed a lot of skill to make--and as I adored "Chaat" I dug in with relish and gusto!!Poor Sudhir--who needed his Curry and Rice at night just ate because he was hungry--and put on his smiling "Social" face each time Nalini looked at him!!!
The Party ended way past 12.30 a.m. that night--and as we drove back home Sudhir wasn't very happy about the Meal.Of course he'd eaten his fill and the Food had been exceptionally tasty--but according to him it wasn't a Meal--these were just Snacks that one had around Tea time!!!So on reaching home I rummaged in the 'Fridge and warmed up the Fish Curry,Dry Vegetable Curry and Rice I found there and fed him his "Dinner" at 1.15 a.m.!!!Finally satisfied and satiated he went to bed on a happy note!!!
My father was an extremely Anglocised man and I learnt to dress for Dinner,use the right Fork and all the other Airs and Graces at a very young age.I was brought up by my Amma--as was the norm those days with my mother sprinkled over my days in bits and pieces--for in the early days my parents lived an extremely social life.Both my parents came from typically Indian backgrounds but looking at them one would find that difficult to believe because both wore their polished sophistication with an easy flair.For me somehow this part of our life lacked appeal.Instead I loved being a part of Amma's family.Her Aunt "Phupee" lived nearby and Amma took me there to visit them often."Phupee" would welcome me with a lot of Love,cook my favourite dishes and place these in front of me.Once I'd begin to eat Amma and she would gossip away in the "Pahaadi" dialect--one which very lyrical and sweet to hear.For me this was not new--for this was the Dialect I used while speaking to Amma.
My early years were spent fraternising with our domestic Staff---- my Nanny Amma,our Cook Narayan Das and our Bearer Ramu as well as other children and their Nannies.While it fascinated me to sit in my Bedroom Window at nights--- in the dark seated cross legged on top of a strategically placed Table----looking down on all the Joie D'Vivre and Gaiety of their parties in the Garden below-- the whole thing somehow aquired a surreal look--like something out of Movie--not part of real life.As I grew up I decided to be a hands on mother--that my children would not lack my attention was a resolve that grew stronger with each passing day.After Amma left us--by then I was 13 years old---my parents too reduced their socialising and slowly we all began bonding together as a family.The only regret I have is that I got very little time with my father---he and I were buddies since my early childhood but he was a workoholic---and that put paid to many of our plans once too often.
I married Sudhir on 11th.October 1970---and conceived Lotta almost immediately and we became parents a little before our first Anniversary.Lotta was a real live plaything for me--a Doll and I spent the day dressing her up in different styles---and once I stuffed her fat little arms into a tiny "Choli" or fitted Blouse---which stuck to her like a second skin----my sister-in-law Suhas--Sudhir's sister---gingerly had to cut open the sleeves while I held Lotta---for the li'l madame's fat little upper arms had stuck to the sleeves like Glue!!Lotta was just 9 months old then.There are many such incidents where poor Lotta has suffered because of my ineptitude.Once my Pediatrician and GP,Pilloo Aunty asked me to start her on steamed Fish---I promptly came home, boiled 2-3 Jumbo Prawns and fed these to her for Lunch.By evening her left side had swollen up,her fair skin turned an angry red and was burning hot to the touch--and I was terrified!!!We rushed her to the Doctor--Pilloo Aunty, a Parsi lady---and what a dressing down she gave me as she administerd the Anti Histamine Injection to contain the Allergy!!!!Even today that memory makes me laugh and cry--both simultaneously!!Lotta and Sudhir shared a wonderful rapport---and because for one year she still attended her old School near our old family home. Sudhir would drop her at School each morning.From there after School she'd be fetched by my sister-in-law Nina--Milind's wife--- who would look after her at the old home till Sudhir came to fetch her home.Then the two of them would ride home together.Father and daughter came closer still because she'd share every little bit of her day with him as they drove home every night from there.These conversations with her were a cherished memory for Sudhir after she grew older and joined Bombay ScottishSchool near our home and started taking the School Bus instead.
Sayali on the other hand got a much better mother--- there was no trial and error method with her--I was better equipped to deal with her both physically and mentally.She was a Brat ---and a very wily child as well.She knew exactly which buttons to push and get her own way with her father--me--- I was impervious to her wheedling and there were plenty of arguments and fights!!Daddy was a pushover for both his daughters--but while the older one was never as demanding as the younger one---people in our Condominium thought that Sayali was the favourite one-but they were very wrong.Sudhir had no favourites between his daughters---each relationship is different because the people involved in it were different.Lotta was a diffident child so he was extremely careful and protective about her.Sayali on the other hand was a very confident and adventurous child--and had a tendency to lead--so she shared a more equal relationship with her father.She'd tell him every tiny detail of her day since she was very little--she called it her "Daily Report" and it continued till the day he died!!
With me I'm sorry to say the relationship was that of a Ringmaster and His Lions in a Circus Ring.I cracked the whip and my daughters grumbling and grousing under their breath obeyed my commands!!Lotta actually got the worst of it---both verbally and physically.Because she lacked the guts to rebel she'd give in to my rules--and brood about it later.Sayali would instead try to blackmail me into letting her be--and sometimes her tactics worked--and sometimes not---for it depended on how strong a moral ground I was standing on!!!Today I admit that I could have been a better mother----a much much better one if I had been more understanding and loving than I was.