Sunday, September 23, 2012
Today Sudhir would have completed 68 years---and it was a day that we all spent together--his sisters Kunda and Suhas,my sisters Mikki and Ritu,his sister-in-law Nina and me. I cooked some of his favourite Food--Suhas cooked some and brought it over and Mikki ,Ritu and i also arranged for his Favourite Sweets!!!
The Sweets are Sutar Pheni,Motichoor Laddus,Jalebi,Sheera and Sitaphal (Custard Apple) Basundi.The sweets in the centre are Gulab Jamuns---something he enjoyed the most!!He was in the habit of buying these sweets on his way home from Court.Three shops were his favourites--Adarsh Mithai Bhandar in Nana chowk---since childhood he grew up eating their Sweets and he'd swear that nobody could match their Gulab Jamuns in the whole of Mumbai!!!the second Shop was called Dayaram Damodar---and their speciality was the Sutar pheni--a sort ofspun Sugar and All Purpose Flour sweet strings nestled together in the shape of a Bird's Nest.If this was out of stock at Dayaram's he'd buy it from Adarsh!!!The third shop was a new addition--Mishti bela at walkeshwar.These people prepare the best Basundi or thickened Sweet Milk---and add fresh fruits to this according to the season one can get Custard Apple,Strawberry,Mango etc. Basundi---and each one is simply superb!!!Their speciality however is the Motichoor Laddus---round sweet balls made of tiny Chick pea Flour beads soaked in Sugar Syrup,tempered with plenty of chopped Almonds and Pistachioes,flavoured with Saffron Threads and Cardamom Powder and then bound together to form soft,melt in the mouth balls--simply scrumptious!!!The Indian Jalebi is another well known extremely popular sweet---common all over India.Sheera/Halwa is a Whole Wheat Flour or Semolina Pudding which I make pretty well.This was made as a "Prasad" to celebrate Sudhir's birthday today---and he loved the way I prepared it--with Cardamom-nutmeg Powder,saffron threads and plenty of slivered Almonds and Pistachioes.
It was an extremely bitter sweet day---but I think all of us managed ourselves pretty well!!!
Sudhir's sisters--Kunda and Suhas
His sister-in-law Nina
Mikki and Me
Thursday, September 20, 2012
The Wheel of Time is moving on inexorably---turning the Present into the Past and collecting names on it's way.One such name is Dr. Pilloo--our GP ever since I can remember!!!This wonderful Parsee family was a part of our babyhood,childhood and adulthood--the only Doctors we all consulted.To all our children she was " Pilloo Aunty" a very well loved figure they were very much in awe of---and feared too!!
Dr. Pilloo,her husband Dr. Noshir and brother-in-law Dr.Adi were our Family Doctors and were the successors of their "Badaa Doctor" who was their father and father-in-law.After he passed on these three took his place.Of these three, Dr. Pilloo and Dr. Adi were consulted more often---one being a Paediatrician and the other an ENT Specialist as well.Dr. Noshir was a Cardiologist---and since the Heart and anything to do with it struck terror in our hearts--he was our last resort failing the other two!!!I still remember my first encounter with Dr. Piloo---I must have been 4 years old---and had stuck a hairpin into my ear---causing me severe ear ache---and since The Dispensary was just across the street,my Gransdpa---Aazoba----took me there.I stood in awe--a finger stuck into my mouth---- just staring at Piloo Aunty.She was a tall,stylish,impeccably dressed lady--very much like Lauren Bacall to look at.I still remember she smelt of Muguet--a perfume my mother used too--and that put me at ease.Her cool hands were gentle as she checked my ear for any bleeding---then wrote out a Prescription for a solution for my poor ear---something to soothe and heal the damage done.That done she sat me down opposite her and cupping my face in her cool,capable hands,she said "Mignonne that was foolish of you--don't repeat it again!!You won't--will you??"I shook my head and after her Compounder handed us the bottle of the Concoction we walked out.
The next time I saw her was when I was six.we had come to Bombay for Kunda's (Sudhir's older sister) wedding.I suffered from Tonsils often and because Pilloo Aunty was a Paediatrician, Mummy took me to see her.She checked me out,suggested a few home remedies for dealing with my frequent Colds as well as giving me a course of some Medication--which Mummy made me take.She still remembered my earlier visit--and peered into both my ears through an Instrument just to check whether I'd fiddled with these again!! As I grew older,each visit to Bombay meant a visit to Pilloo Aunty---and I loved meeting her---her striking Personality,her Professional but caring demeanor---left a deep impression on my mind.
It was after Sudhir and I got married that Pilloo Aunty became an integral part of our lives.She had known Sudhir since he was born and treated him like a favourite nephew---and as his wife I too became a part of her well loved Coterie.Milind--Sudhir's older brother--was a Hypochondriac--susceptible to whims and fancies concerning his health.Once he took it into his head that he'd developed a condition called "Elephantisis' and nothing and no one could dissuade him to think otherwise!!!He'd stand for hours in the Balxcony facing the Street---just staring at the legs of people passing by and comparing his own calves with those of the passers by!!Atya consulted both Dr.Noshir as well as Dr. Adi---but nothing could shake his conviction about him not being affected by that condition.In desperation Atya called Pilloo Aunty--who came and with her customary briskness first gave Milind a healthy dose of advice before asking us to fetch a measuring tape.She asked him which leg he thought was affected--and then told him that physical dissimilarities were a normal feature in comparing one's arms and legs.She then proceeded to measure his calves---and the fact that the "affected" calf was a wee bit thinner than the other one--cured him of this foolish phobia!!The incident went down in our Family annals as just one of Milind's eccentricities--of which there are plenty!!
After Lotta's birth after I returned to Bombay I'd see Piloo Aunty 3-4 times each week.She'd guide me about her Diet and thanks to this Lotta was an extremely healthy baby--gaining weight literally by the hour!!Since we had a large domestic Staff I had little else to do hence looking after Lotta became top priority in Sudhir's and my lives.Lotta had this one bad habit--she used to literally howl all 24 hours of the day!!Not just that she'd hold her breath till her lips would start getting a blueish tinge---something that only Sudhir and I could handle.As a result I began losing sleep---and Sudhir helped out more than his fair share--doing night duty just so that I could catch some sleep!!Pilloo Aunty too was at her wit's end--Lotta ate well,was completely healthy,had no colic--but the reason for her bawling was then--and still is an unsolved mystery!!I tried so many different remedies---some of them suggested by Pilloo Aunty but nothing worked.Lotta would doze off at 10 p.m. after her night feed.It took me an hour to wash her Bottles clean and boil them for 30 minutes--a must those days to sterilise them!!It would be 11 p.m. when I'd be able to stretch myself out on our bed---but the moment my head touched the pillow Lotta would begin to bawl---and our night time routine would begin!!
This continued till Lotta was 10 months old--and we returned late at night after my cousin Lalita's Wedding.That day I'd banged my head badly against a wooden Lintel while entering the Wedding Venue--and as a result the ache developed into a severe humdinger headache by the time the day was over!!Added to this smiling,gurgling Lotta turned into the bawling monster the moment we entered our bedroom past midnight--and that just did it!!I spanked her pretty hard for the first time in her life--and making her howl even louder!!The next day feeling extremely guilty and contrite I took her to Pilloo Aunty to check for any damage done.After hearing my side of the story Pilloo Aunty checked Lotta all over for damages--berating me all the while for being stupid,selfish and silly!!Except for a sore Butt Lotta suffered no damages to her person----but the night following the Wedding she slept at 8 p.m.--and awoke exactly 12 hours later the next morning---leading both Sudhir and Pilloo Aunty to wonder as to whether I should have done this earlier????
Pilloo Aunty was the one who confirmed both my pregnancies,the one who turned into my friend,philosopher and guide as the years went on.When I shifted here 37 years back getting to her regularly became difficult--so she gave me written Instructions on how to handle the different maladies the children contracted--along with the names and dosage of the Medicines I needed to use.She saw our daughters through Measles,Chicken Pox,Mumps and other such "childhood afflictions" as well as through other problems like Para Typhoid and Typhoid.It was her Prescription that both Lotta and Sayali carried abroad with them for she had advised me on every aspect of their health since they were born.For Sudhir and me she was one of our favourite Aunts---and indispensable as a Doctor.
She was a part of our family when we mourned for Shashi, Kunda's husband in 1980,then Milind in 2001 and finally Sudhir last year-----she was past 89 years then.Despite suffering from severe Osteoporosis since her 60s, she remained as sharp and alert as ever--for when I consulted her last year about a Cold that Sudhir had caught---she gave me the names of some latest Medications in the Market.She knew each and everyone of us inside out---and for us she was a pillar of strength---someone to whom we all as a family turned to blindly when in need.Personally she was a great Human Being--a loving Aunt,a great Cook and above all an extremely conscientious,well informed and up to date Doctor--who always had our well being at heart!!!Rest in Peace Darling Pillo Aunty--I'm sure Sudhir and Milind must be very happy to see you again--and definitely must be consulting you up there!!!
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