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Our Marriage--5!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

I hope none of you got the impression that Sudhir and I were a syrupy sweet couple--for we were not!!If I said "East" he'd say "West" and we'd be off!!We needed to have at least one good fight everyday for us to sleep peacefully at night!!The Thunder and Lightning of our early years gradually gave way to the biting Sarcasm of the later years---both of us pitching understated barbs at each other!!Today it is this that I miss the most---with me playing Tom and him Jerry!!Blessed with a clear cut logical mind he could run circles around me and tie me up in knots--leaving me seething to weep and sulk in impotent frustration!!Sometimes our interaction would be so very childish that it had the bystanders--my sister Ritu,daughters Sayali and Lotta and grand daughter Meha in splits!!That is when Sayali came up with the idea of filming Sudhir on her Cell each opportunity she got.Thanks to her I have him at his irritating acerbic best--at the click of the Mouse!!
Today I just sit back and look at my Day--I have plenty of spare Time and then some--when almost a year back I didn't even have a minute to myself in the mornings!!Sudhir was a light sleeper--and when we got married he was an insomniac.Thanks to this I became light footed--becuase I didn't like disturbing his sleep when he actually did sleep--so I became an expert at tip toeing around our Bedroom--without switching on the Lights!!This was the main cause for our fights in the early years.I was blessed with a 20-20 eyesight--something I was inordinately proud of--and Bombay with plenty of Street Lights.As a result I could move around in the reflected half light without needing to switch on the Lights--irritating Sudhir immensely!!Finally he got used to it and began calling me a Cat--thanks to my perfect night vision!!Those early years I'd be off the moment my head touched the Pillow--and because of Lotta's crankiness and the lack of sleep it caused I became extremely Anaemic.Sudhir was a hands on father in helping me with the night duty--and by the time she was about 9 months--a frustrated spanking from me one night cured her of crankiness forever!!
Sayali was another kettle of Fish altogether.The first thing she did after birth was try to suckle her oldest Aunt ,Kunda's finger barely 10 minutes after she was born, much to everybody's amusement--at 11.30 p.m. on the day she was born.Besides she was an extremely restless baby--and by the time she was barely 3 months old had started holding long conversations with the Night Lamp--keeping us awake once more!!!We were literally at our wits end on how to shut her up when 3 year old Lotta sourly asked us to switch off the Night Light one night--and the babbling stopped and we all began getting some sleep!!By the time Sayali was 6 months old we shifted here--and then began a new phase in our lives.
My mother and two sisters shifted in with us.Deciding the Menus,drafting the Budget was something that I learnt to do through trial and error.Sudhir would leave at 7.30 a.m. each morning Lotta to the old home.From there Milind,Sudhir Shilpa and Lotta would have their Breakfast after which the brothers would drop off their respective daughters in a famous South Bombay Girls High School--for according to tradition all the girls from our Family had attended it!!We were perhaps the first to break away from thios fold---for the next year Lotta started attending another well known High School called The Bombay Scottish School--and later Sayali joined her.By now I'd become a pretty good seamstress--and even today when I remember the Grey Uniforms I used to stitch for my daughters--I still feel a surge of pride!!Made from heavy Poplin material these Uniforms were Pinafores and had 3 Box pleats front and back each.The Pattern used up about 3 metres of Cloth--and these were awful to dry in the Monsoons because the Cloth would retain the moisture like a sponge!!This led to my stitching 5 sets each--just to ensure a crisp,well ironed Uniform daily!!Sudhir taught the two them to tie their School Ties and Belts in the classic "Triangular Knot" or the "Samosa" as it was called in vernacular slang. Being very particular about neatness Sudhir would polish their Black School shoes every night before going to bed--and they drove me crazy by misplacing the white socks called "long John's"!!
By now Mummy and Mikki-Ritu had moved into their own home in South Bombay and our actual life together--just the four of us--started in earnest.Those days Sudhir travelled often to Delhi for work in the Supreme Court when one fine day out of the blue I just fainted!!By now my weight had bludgeoned--from 90 lbs at the time of marriage to 115 lbs after Lotta to 165 lbs after Sayali---and Pilloo Aunty put me on a Diet.Instead of Chappaties made from Whole Wheat she asked to substitute Salad leaves and eat these with Salad--a completely low Fat-- low Sodium Diet for I'd been diagnosed as having Angina.The year was 1977---and I was 24 years old.For a Foodie like me it was the worst kind of tragedy to strike me--for was blessed with a gargantuan appetite along with a love of Food!!Now began an uncharacteristic period in my life--I'd hug and kiss both my daughters every night before going to bed--without being sure as to whether I'd wake up the next morning!!I lived on Sorbitrate--and as a result was mostly wonked out under their influence.All this ended one afternoon because of my "Local" Bai named Bhagirathi. A simple Village woman she was very attached to me--and she picked a fight with the Nanny we'd hired because she said that if I died she didn't know where to run with Sayali --Lotta by now was in Senior Kindergarten.The shrillness of their heated exchange penetrated the mist of self pity that surrounded me--and after hearing the whole story the Nanny was dropped at her son's home that very night by Sudhir.The first thing I did after coming back home was to flush all the Medicines down the Toilet---with the exception of the Sorbitrate---bring out a bowlful of Okra Bhaaji swimming in Oil--add a little cold Rice to it--and down the entire thing with great taste and gusto--right in front of Sudhir's horrifed and stupefied gaze!!Satiated I turned round and told him "don't worry--I promise you I won't die as long as you need me--I promise"!!Perhaps God heard me that day--for in December 2002 I caught a very bad bout of Dengue Fever but made it to the Hospital in the nick of time--Thanks to Sudhir.The second time was in 2006 again December--this time Breast Cancer surgery,8 cycles of Toxic Chemo and 31 cycles of Radiation--again Thanks to Sudhir. Then finally the 3rd chance--in February 2009 two massive Heart Attacks one after the other--but again Sudhir got me to the Hospital on time!!!I think God helped me to keep my promise--I let him go before me by sticking along as long as he needed me!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOVEY63 10/3/2012 5:58PM

    You are one amazing woman!

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CHERIRIDDELL 10/3/2012 12:51PM

    Oh Komal this story brought tears to my eyes ,you truly are one of the triplets you are tough and determined.(and perhaps just a wee bit stubborn !) I too have beat the odds having been hit by a truck with a full load of gravel and insisting on hanging around afterall my family needed me !My husband still determinedly lugs me off to hospital when I am insisting I am all right ,last year I got bit by a brown recluse spider ,they apparently can kill and I was on intravenous therapy three times a day for 8 weeks I'd say between you and Ann and I the stories may be slightly different but the basic premise remains the same ,we are very determined and value our family and friend and we are insisting on staying here while we are needed !

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SAASHA17 10/3/2012 12:40PM

    emoticon Dotn know why but I teared up after this blog...

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Beautiful Pictures of Huge Ganesha's

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Lal Baugchaa Raja--The most revered Community Ganesha in Mumbai

The GSB Community Ganesha of Wadala--The Richest in Mumbai is insured for Millions of Rupees every year!!

Bidding Adieu on the 10 th. Day

Another One!!

Another View!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MESSYGIRL_28 10/3/2012 10:48AM

  Thanx a ton for sharing, it did revive some old childhood memories !

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*MADHU* 10/3/2012 3:28AM

    Brings back fond memories... emoticonfor sharing!

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CHERIRIDDELL 10/3/2012 1:03AM

    How beautiful and fascinating thank you!

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BOVEY63 10/2/2012 1:41PM

    Wow that is a lot of people! The Ganesha is beautiful!

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PICKIE98 10/2/2012 12:50PM

    Wow!! What beauty and fervor!!

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SAASHA17 10/2/2012 12:49PM

    I always used to get sad when the local big ganesha was taken for visarjan...

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Oh.....What a Glorious Show!!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

For the past few days--Saturday and Sunday to be precise Mumbai was sweltering under a Heat Wave---and add to that noise and cacophony of the Ganapati Immersion Processions---poor Ganapati Bappaa our most beloved Elephant headed God must have gone back home tone deaf and totally dazed!!He is perhaps the most benevolent of all our dieties and spends 10-11 days in our homes and in specially erected Marquees---where it is a Community Venture---and these days one can find these "Pandals" as they are called mushrooming all over town--on every empty Plot and every street corner--in each and every Housing society too!!

This our family Ganapati Idol that used to stay in Babu's home for 10 days.This year onwards we reduced it to 36 hours.

Sudhir,Suhas and The Ganapati

Traditional Offering of Sweet Modakas--white by Nina,brown by Suhas

The Ganapati Corner of our Living Room
Till last year our family too used to host Him for 10 days.This year we reduced it to 36 hours instead----since Milind passed away in 2001 Babu had been toying with the idea--but after Sudhir too passed away last year all of us agreed on the reduced no. of days.Like his father and uncle Babu too is a very busy Advocate (Lawyer) who travels extensively all over India--Festivals or not.So this was finalised--a permanent Statue would be brought and would be worshipped for 36 hours each year.As decided we bought a beautiful Bronze Ganesha--but these Pictures are dear to my heart because these were taken on the first day of Ganapati last year by Sayali.This year the sweltering Heat and the number of Firecrackers burst added to the heat, smoke and noise pollution--the over enthusiastic crowds celebrating till 4 a.m. on Saturday/Sunday night and till 1 a.m. on Sunday/Monay night!!!As a result the heat became stifling yesterday--Monday afternoon and my Claustrophobia began surfacing.By evening the Sky turned leaden and while we friends sat in our Compound complaining about the heat,the noise and lack of sleep on the earlier two nights---suddenly a spiral of Dust rose up as the Wind began gusting in earnest.We quickly picked up our chairs and rushed headlong into the nearest Garage--and witnessed a sight that was awesomely delightful and just as terrifying!!
The Thunder started booming and the Wind was blowing so hard---enough to toss strong Tree tops swinging so wildly from side to side that we were sure one or more would snap off like matchsticks in the Wind!!That was when the Lightning flashed--a mesmerising Dance alternating between flashes of Forked and Sheet Lightning--crashing into a rising crescendo as the Thunder held the Drum Beats.If I'd been home I would have missed this spectacular performance of Nature--ultimately culminating in thick pellets of Rain crashing down and beating a tattoo into the thirsty Earth!!For more than an hour the 8-9 of us women sat transfixed-----enjoying the cool Sprays that landed on us like soft ,wet fingers of Mist as the World around us went from hot to pleasant and finally from cool to chilly---and the Weather changed completely.As the Thunder and Lightning growled away like disgruntled children into the distance the Rain settled down to an even rhythmic drumming through out the night.
Last night I missed Sudhir the most---for many times when we were younger we have driven out into such Weather to a nearby Beach and just sat there in completely stunned Awe--at both---- the Fury of Nature and God's Powerful Bounty!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHERIRIDDELL 10/3/2012 1:02AM

    I love watching a storm .I loved hearing about your family Ganapati Idol.

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BOVEY63 10/2/2012 1:39PM

    I love watching the beauty of a storm too.

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SAASHA17 10/2/2012 12:34PM

    love that picture...

now i want modaks:(

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Our Marriage--4

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Opal Facade--still unchanged!!

The Garden--unfortunately reduced in size thanks to a Fly Over being built over the nearby Railway tracks!!

By 1977 we began taking annual trips to my Hometown--Kolhapur. Our common Uncle(Sudhir's maternal and my paternal) was a partner in a lovely old style Hotel called "The Opal".They ran it in an old Mansion owned by one of the "Sardar" Families--the local aristocracy.There were barely 12-15 rooms--I forget the actual number---but our favourite was No.7 on the first floor (USA 2nd.)This room was actually a very funny shaped room--a cross between a triangle and a rhombus---with two attached Toilets and a huge marbled Bath----but the main attraction was actually the attached Balcony and theTerraces--both of which have now been converted into very large rooms.We'd book in advance---and the first order the moment we reached would be for "Loni-Paav" or "Bread and Butter"!!!These had a taste of their own--warm,oven fresh Bread slathered with freshly churned home made Butter and cut into Sandwiches.Along with tall glasses of Milk for the Girls and cups of sweet, strong Milk Tea--this had the consistency of thin Cream and was sugared with at least 2-3 tsps. of the stuff!!! Refreshed we'd go down and join our Uncle and his partners on the Lawns---enjoying the cool,Evening Breeze sighing through the waving Coconut Palms.
Nights would be spent sleeping on the Terrace under the Stars---lying flat on our backs on Mattresses spread out on the Terrace floor.The gentle breezes would turn the Summer nights into pleasurably cool ones and we'd lie there enjoying the gentle touch of early morning Dew on our faces.It used to be specially beautiful on Moonlit Nights---we would play "Antakshri" and Sudhir would the begin to sing---anything that came to his mind--- from old Marathi songs,Ghazals,old Hindi Songs--with both the girls joining in--creating a Musical Cacophony--for each one preferred to take their own chords and embellish the tunes the way they thought was best!!!Since this was a family establishment we could be absolutely sure about our Girls being looked after---and of the two Sayali was more popular thanks to her antics!!
Sayali loved to dance--and since we needed Music, a Transistor was always a part of our luggage. Sayali would dance on the popular Songs that played though she had never formally learnt how to dance!!In 1979 Summer my sister-in-law Suhas's niece got married to a local Kolhapur boy and all of us were put up at the Opal.The day after the Wedding a Summer Storm occurred---with marble sized Hail Stones--and the entire Family spent the evening sipping infinite number of cups of the yummy tea and digging into infinite plates of hot "Pakoras" with 4 year old Sayali supplying all the entertainment!!She was indefatigable and could dance for hours on end--all she needed was plenty of appreciation!!Not only that Opal had a large number of Dogs--thoroughbred Alsatians.Of these an old bitch named Leena was the girls' favourite. Sayali would each morning tell our Uncle about how in her dreams Leena used to actually talk to her---and she spent most of her time during our visits lying next to Leena--her head resting against Leena's flanks!!
Summers in Kolhapur meant just lazing around doing nothing but reading--the source of the Books being our Aunt's extensive personal Library!!The Opal served authentic,traditional Kolhapuri Food----and both the girls loved watching the local women engaged in using the huge Grinding Stones---both for grinding the Masala Pastes and flour--the local Sorghum/Jowar "Bhakri" prefferred to the Whole wheat "Chappaties" each night!!Kolhapuri Food is extremely spicy--hot enough to burn the roof of your mouth--for it is cooked with liberal quantities of the local "Lavangi Mirchi" or Clove Pepper--a relative of the Thai Bird Chilli!!My paternal Grandma Akka was a stupendous Cook who cooked on the traditional Coal Fires---and even today the flavour of coal smoke pervades my senses when I think of her Food.She taught me the traditional Recipes--and shared her secret Recipes for the Masala Powders--and I still make these today for both my daughters use these liberally!!Sudhir was not a very adventurous Foodie--he loved Food but only the type he was familiar with and would always eat in moderation--me I loved to gorge so the way we ate showed on our respective frames!!I on the other hand loved to experiment with various types of Cuisines---and managed to introduce him to Chinese and Thai as well as Pork---for belonging to the conventional Marathi background eating Pork was new to him!!Our annual visits meant Picnics--to the nearby Panhala Fort on the Western Ghats and a place near Belgaum called Khanapur--situated next to a river.The Menu of the Food we carried was fixed---Akka's spicy dry Goat Meat Curry with our Aunt's melt in the mouth "Bhakris' and Curd Rice---this too would be full of cooling Vegetables like pieces of Bottle Gourd,cucumber and Tomatoes---seasoned with Dry Red Chillies,Curry Leaves,Black Mustard Seeds and Fenugreek Seeds crisped in 2-3 tablespoons of Ghee and poured over the top!!

Curd Rice

Kolhapuri Chillies

Shashi Kaki's Masala Stuffed Eggs

Kolhapuri Mutton Curry

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RAIN454 10/2/2012 11:34AM

    omg, komal...i have so much reading to catch up on but these pix are making me hungry. the egg curry looks divine. My dad makes this awesome yogurt by crushing those little chills into them (we grow them in our back yard) and then adding a lot of water...its sooo good...i kinda drink it cuz i put like a little rice and then pour a cup of the watery yogurt..like cold rice soup ;) hehe.
Thanks for sharing all your stories.
emoticon emoticon

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BOVEY63 10/1/2012 11:45AM

    I hope you are keeping record of all these stories - your daughters and grandchildren will treasure them!

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SAASHA17 10/1/2012 7:35AM

    All I could do was drool at the curd rice:)


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MIRFA71 10/1/2012 4:52AM

    emoticon . The Masala Stuffed Eggs and Mutton Curry = yummy and mouth watering.

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CHERIRIDDELL 10/1/2012 3:28AM

    Oh this looks fabulous! Alsations are gorgeous dogs. The Opal sounds like a lovely place . I loved hearing about your hometown,thank you ! I am getting to travel to wonderful places from my armchair ! hugs,Cheri

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Our Marriage--3

Sunday, September 30, 2012

It was a regular feature for all of us to take long drives together.The best part was that we had a Chevrolet in which all of us adults---numbering 7--and the entire lot of 8 children would be piled in and we'd take off.There was the Aarey Colony nearby in Goregaon---developed as a Government Dairy and the children loved drinking the fresh Milk out of the bottles there.There also was a lovely little cafe that served fabulous Chutney and Cucumber Sandwiches along with other stuff and this was what we'd make a beeline for the moment we got there!!Once all of us were satiated only then would we take the children out to play in the beautiful Gardens---Cricket being the most popular Sport played.Other popular destinations were Lonavla and Matheran--two nearby Hill Stations situated on the Western Ghats.Many impromptu excursions have taken place decided on the spur of the moment--and many have ended circling the Sion Circle before taking off on the Highway via Chembur--with Milind asking whether the children wanted to go out of Town or home!!!There are many such Memories over the years where the entire family has gone out of Town--specially during the Summer Vacations---and today these hold a very special place in my heart!!
My father died in Mauritius in 1974.As a result my mother and my two sisters aged 16 years and 13 years came back to Bombay---and for two years till their Flat was ready,they lived with us.Our new Flat had a big Living cum Dining room,two large Bedrooms---of which the Master Bedroom had an attached Bath and one more Bathroom opening into the connecting Passage way.My biggest grouse then and now has always been the Kitchen--a tiny Unit attached as an afterthought to the Flat!!This was surprising because unlike today, Restaurant Culture and eating out often as a concept was unknown those days.We entertained a lot--and specially a new home was a definite reason to celebrate!!I still remember the way this Flat embraced me when I first entered it---it was as if it took me to it's heart---and the fact that it was surrounded by Greenery sealed my decision--where else in a crowded Metropolis like Bombay could one find such a beautifully Green Oasis--just moments from a busy arterial road but with nary a peep of the heavy Traffic!!Here we were surrounded by Coconut plantations locally called "Waadies" which were populated by small 2-3 room single storey Cottages with Red tiled roofs.The Sea was a hop,skip and jump away---and at night we could see the lights winking in the Fishing Boats there--though some said that these were the Smugglers at their work!!The first 2-3 Winters here we needed Blankets at night--my daughters would be wearing Sweaters throughout the day!!Unfortunately Progress intervened---and though we still retain a lot of our Green Cover Buildings have replaced the tiny Cottages and the coolness of Winter has been replaced for the most part with the sweltering ,humid dry heat that gets reflected from tall Cement and Concrete walls.
The first few things I did after we moved was joining Sewing and Cooking Classes.I began stitching all my daughters' clothes---and began acquiring a reputation as a Cook as well!!Armed with authentic Traditional Maharashtrian and North Indian Recipes I embarked on my culinary journey!!I learnt to cook authentic Bombay Biryani from scratch and those were the pre-Mixer/Grinder days in India.As a result I used to grind all my Spices on a huge heavy Grinding Stone--building up my muscles!!!I had been taught the art of grinding fine by my mother--one of the most finicky women I've ever come across and a stickler for perfection!!Not just that we also had to ensure two Kerosene Stoves because initially for the first 8-9 months I had just the one Gas Cylinder--with the advent of the second one, Life definitely eased out!!Those were the pre Cholestrol days--and making stuff like Rogan Josh meant frying the ground masalas,Yoghurt and Cream till a wonderful Colour and aroma was achieved. This required patience and I would begin cooking this in the mornings to achieve the desired textures for elaborate Dinners at night!!Sudhir was my biggest Fan--and inordinately proud of my prowess----in later years he loved carrying a variety of Food in Tiffins to feed all his friends in the Court!!
Within a year of shifting here my domestic help named Vithoba had to return to his Village as his wife was diagnosed in an advanced stage of Cancer.As a result we began employing the local women--these ladies would sweep and swab the floors,wash the Clothes and the Utensils and their work done, move on to the next home.The reason for this was the fact that we did not want to trust our daughters with any unknown person--Vithoba had worked with us for more then 18-20 years.A new period of self reliance began in our lives--moving towards doing a lot of things by ourselves instead of depending on domestic staff!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOVEY63 10/1/2012 11:43AM

    I never tire of reading your memories - you write so well and I can almost see what you are writing about.

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CHERIRIDDELL 10/1/2012 12:59AM

    Your tales of cooking fascinate me .I love to cook.I taught cookery classes at the family resource centre on the base in Germany and I wrote a cookery column for the newspaper but here I hang my head in shame I bought my curry and tandoori spices at the market ready ground ! Though the lady I bought them from made them herself ! I have to agree with Manasa you would make a fabulous Indian Enid Blyton ,the children would gobble up your stories (never mind the children adults would too) You have a gift for evoking the places and times you write about.You are simply amazing and your treasure of memories is so compelling we could happilly read on and on,eagerly awaiting the next installment ! hugs,Cheri .

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MIRFA71 9/30/2012 2:26PM

    I agree with Manasa. You are just amazing. You have a treasure full of memories. Take care. emoticon

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SAASHA17 9/30/2012 9:22AM

    Is there anything u cant do??? Cook, sew, sing, dance, write...u are amazing and all those memories...I am transformed there...wit all the childhood stories and fun stuff u write about..u shud consider writing a series for children..more like an INdian Enid Blyton..I am not kidding..

take care

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