Side Benefits of blogging.

Summer holidays, growing up were always spent in Wayanad, where both sets of grandparents lived.

Every summer, all my cousins and uncles and aunts would descend to Wayanad, and it was a lot of fun. We used to stay at my maternal grandparents place, and would go over every evening with my uncles to my paternal grandparents’ place. I used to be one of the younger lot those days. My cousins were older and I was a pesky brat, they just had to tolerate. So it was quite annoying for them and me:) Those younger than me hadn’t been born yet or were just not around.

So as I was saying, every day, my uncles and I would go over to my Achchan’s place. My uncles and my cousins would all play badminton, and then a few games of cards, in which my Achchan would join as well. I don’t quite remember what I would do, apart from being a pest, but I do remember hating having to go back to my mum’s place. I just wanted to stay here with all my cooler cousins. I was the oldest on my mother’s side, and it was quite boring. Although, my Ammachan and mamas would play a mean game of scrabble with me, but that was forgotten in those moments of being utterly unreasonable.

Now, there was another reason I hated going back. Both the houses weren’t very far but it was a dark and lonely walk through the coffee plantation. For a town bred kid, who is used to flats and houses, right next to each other, it could be downright spooky. We would have torches, but it still was scary. The coffee plants lending a very shadowy and eerie feeling. It would be dusk and sometimes well past dusk when we returned and you could hear crickets and foxes as you walked back. Those days the sound of foxes scared me. I used to have this mental image of a large dog who could come and get little girls. I also suspect that my uncles might have made them seem a little bit too scary. So I would hear them howl in the darkness and be scared stiff.

Somewhere down the line, foxes cease to be scary. And I completely forgot about them. The only time I remembered those foxes of my childhood was when I came across this news a few years ago about how foxes had mauled two babies. That was such a shocking read.

The subject of foxes would come up every once in a while, once we watched a BBC documentary about them. They are considered rather common urban animals. But of course, I had never had a chance to see them. Just the other week, daughter’s class was discussing nocturnal animals, and foxes came up in thw discussion. She told me that I had to go out at night to find foxes. Well, I didn’t think I was that desperate.

I’m sure you are wondering what is the link to blogging in all this? I am getting to that in a minute. You see, these days I end up watching birds quite a lot. Completely inspired by Shail’s pictures. I never see any exotic birds fromy windows, though. All I get to see are pigeons and magpies. This morning, I saw an interesting fight between one pigeon and two magpies. They all wanted the same twig from my garden. Of course, by the time, I got hold of my camera, they had settled their dispute and moved on!

So, as I was saying, I keep an eye out, even if I don’t get any pictures. They do such interesting things, like pecking at my solar lights as if they were food, and teasing the neighbors cat. Last night I was in daughter’s room, tucking her in bed, and drawing the blinds, when I just stood there, looking out. Daughter’s room overlooks some school grounds. Initially, I had thought that the entire area was part of the school grounds. Later, I realized that about half of those grounds were maintained, and mowed. The well maintained parts were the school grounds. The other part was just full of over grown grass. As I gazed out, I could see some pigeons pecking away at something near some overgrown grass, and then suddenly two dogs appeared. That was funny, dogs without leashes, and no people accompanying them? They did look rather rough as well. They weren’t dogs, of course! They were foxes! What excitement! We even called Husband to tell him. I worry now, that I’m raising daughter to be just as mad as me. Anyway. We watched them until they disappeared into the grass again.

Finally. I got to see foxes! I know, I know, I lead a sad life if I get excited by this, but I am! And I am quite sure I wouldn’t have spotted them, had I not been looking out for birds:). May be one day, I would even get a chance to take a picture of them.

Pilgrimage of sorts..

…is what husband and I have been doing.

We’ve been going or rather, trying to go to those places we frequented years ago… The trek across Koramangala that we did to get that e-stamp paper, had its unexpected, fringe benefits. We managed to go to parts of Bangalore which we would have otherwise not had a chance to visit. Some of them, old haunts, roads where we used to walk…just because we felt like it.. Memories of a different time…

Husband was very keen on trying to revisit our old haunts, but we hadn’t quite managed it. The one month long holiday started to feel completely inadequate. We wished we could squeeze in more.

We did not get to go to all the places we wanted to, but we did manage to eat at most of the places husband wanted to. He was on a one point agenda of trying out all the restaurants he could. And I have to say, he seems to have done quite well:) I have started to crave a month of only home made food though:) If there is anything husband misses a lot, in the UK, it is the huge variety of Indian food. He goes more than a little crazy trying everything. Of course, the effect of it all is very visible on our waistlines. I need a serious detox diet to get myself back in shape. That and exercise. Side effects of a holiday.

So coming back to what I was talking about, both of us had our memories revived when we chanced upon the lanes we used to frequent, the apartments we had visited while our crazy apartment hunting phase. It gives you a certain kind of thrill to see the floor plans having been transformed into apartments, apartments where people are living their lives…

We had so much fun in the last couple of weeks, that it makes me sad that we might need to leave it all behind and go back. At the same time, it makes me grateful that we got this chance, albeit a short one, to live as a family in the home we had long dreamt about…

Memories and Yearnings

The place we live in for a number of years, leaves it’s own mark on us. Marks that may fade, marks that may become faint memories or just photographed memories in the years to come. Initially, however, they remain fresh for a while, and come back to make you yearn for them.

Christmas time is probably one of the times when we will miss UK a lot. All the lovely winter weather in India, doesn’t seem to make our yearning for the Christmas fervour any less. The lit up high streets, Santa’s Grottos, Christmas food, the school Christmas play, writing out Christmas cards… So many things… I’m hoping that by next year, we would have moved on, and forgotten about it all.

Daughter especially seems to be missing Christmas and snow! The other day, while talking to husband, I casually asked him if it has started snowing there. Only to find daughter in tears. Apparently, she’s been missing snow the most. She even wanted Daddy to cancel his holiday so that we could travel there instead! Just so that she could have Christmas there, and play in the snow. Some expectations some people have, eh?

CR’s comments on this post, made me yearn for all the trappings of winter back there. Coats, scarves, hats and boots! I miss my boots! And there is no way I can wear them here, unless I want to look really pretentious and crazy 🙂 I would be happy enough if it got cold enough to wear some scarves.

Although, I have to say, Bangalore has been trying very hard to make me feel at home. So what if it can’t give us snow, its sure very successful in making us cold and wet! Now, if not boots, how about some wellies?

Memories of books..

Do you remember books? Books that you read a long time ago? Not just the stories, you know, but things like what they looked like, how you got to read them…

I remember some.. Like the first book I owned.. The book, which in a way changed my life. You see, until Class 4, I was quite a mediocre student. My mum used to help me with school work at home, but I never did very well. Then in Class 4, my brother had some medical complications and mum and dad were busy, I started studying all by myself, and at the end of the year, I got an award – for exceptional improvement.. I think from then on, I was consistently good at studies. I think studying independently helped. Anyway, the award was a book, an Enid Blyton book, of which, funnily enough, I can’t remember the name! I used to remember it until very recently – old age, I suppose! Do any of you remember which book had 4 children, one of them named Nora? It was a series, but I can’t remember anything beyond this… and the fact that I loved it( which was true about every Enid Blyton I ever read).

Today, I had been reading Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Lives of Strangers. The book is alright, but it kind of transported me to another era, because of the colour of the pages. It had that old book feel(it was probably an older copy), if you know what I mean. All my old books back at home, used to have that feel. Especially when they were stored in a trunk. That yellow colour, which also gives the feeling that the paper will crumple under your fingers, if you are not careful.

Long back, when I was still in school, I used to raid my granddad’s book shelf. One of the books I remember from those days was A J Cronin’s Citadel. I still remember particularly poignant parts of that book. I have re-read it many, many times, but I guess reading a book that my grandfather enjoyed gave me just as much pleasure, I think, as the story itself. Once I had worked through my grandfather’s collection, his brother, my great Uncle got me some of his – his collection of PG Wodehouse. What fun! Those were the best holidays ever! I would read his collection of Reader’s Digests too. It used to amaze me how the magazines which were so very thick in the 50’s and the 60’s became thinner and thinner by the 80s! My grandfather had 4 decades or so, of Readers Digests, and I read them all 🙂

As I read through the yellowed pages of my book today, I couldn’t help be a little sad, that daughter might miss that entirely. What if only electronic readers remain by the time she gets older? Heartbreaking, isn’t it? No more thumbing through books that had been in the family for years, no more reading books that one’s grandparents might have enjoyed.. Instead brand new, soulless books on the reader.  It just makes me so sad..

Edited to add: I figured out which book it was – The Secret of the Moon Castle. How could I forget that, I have no idea 🙂 But at least ‘Googling’, reminded me 🙂

Captured memories.. Post 21

Every time I browse through old pics, I can’t help be amazed at how different life was even a few months back. So when I think of life as it was when I was growing up, I can’t believe how different it was from what my daughter experiences today.

To just take one simple example, we are so lucky to be able to capture so many memories on camera. I remember how different it was when we were growing up. My parents certainly did not have half as many pictures as we have. The exorbitant costs of taking photographs reduced photographs to a ‘special events thing only’. Most of our childhood pictures are awkwardly posing pictures in photo studios or during some wedding or holiday. Even then, it would not be random clicks like we have today. No options for mistakes, developing a roll, was not a cheap thing at all, was it?

Today, thanks to technology, we just click to our heart’s content. We take all sorts of pictures, of anything that catches our fancy..  We fill up our memory sticks with anything and everything. All we need is a hard disk big enough. Not even bothering to delete pictures that are not taken well. Anything that helps us capture the moments that matter to us. Little moments spent together with loved ones. When I go to India, I come back with so many pictures with random things.. Some of them sweet memories, some just moments captured..

After daughter was born, of course, cameras and pictures took a different meaning. We would have the camera ready at all times.  Especially when she was younger, it used to be a race to capture everything she did. Her smiles, her cries – I actually have videos of her crying – yes, crazy first time mother, I know… Although as I was going through the pictures, I do realize that I don’t take as many pictures of her as I used to. Yes, she is getting bigger. The ‘aww’  moments are different. And not so often, as they used to be. And we have far less time together in comparison too. Which I guess makes me all the more nostalgic..

Now, let me show you the picture that started off this post ….

This was a picture taken in 2008 on our annual holiday to India. Daughter dotes on my dad. She would copy everything he did. One morning, he was reading the newspaper, when she grabbed a paper, and copied him. She sat there, pretending to ‘read’ as long as dad sat there reading his news.

Every time I come across pictures like this, I can’t help be glad that technology has improved to the point where we can capture everyday moments like this, to relive years later..

Poohi’s Holiday updates

Poohi had a rather colourful time in India. Here’s a wee summary of all that she(and I) have been up to.

– Cows eat rubbish. One day, in Wayanad, we saw a cow grazing and chomping down grass, when Poohi exclaimed, ‘Oh look, this cow likes grass!’. She had seen quite a few cows eating rubbish on the roads, on our travel earlier, and accepted ‘rubbish’ as part of cows’ diet. It took me a while to convince her that cows are not really supposed to eat rubbish.

– She has adopted my parents as her parents. She was not too keen on having me as a parent. Just this morning, she asked me if she could go back – while I stay here.She wants to have a ‘parent-free’ holiday.

– She is totally cross with me because I am not as much fun as Achan(my dad, who she insists on calling Achan, instead of Ammachan).He used to spend hours at her beck and call. Pretend play with him was one of the highlights of our stay.

– She loved, loved making the Pookalams every day, and I was quite amazed at her sense of symmetry. She was quite good at it.

– Every day would be a marathon session of fun, and food. And she would wake up at five, if she were allowed to.

– Her collection of books have increased three-fold. My parents got me a copy of a Bhagwatham, which I grew up on, and I was so delighted to read it again. I had planned to read it to her, but I think I am having far more fun reading it 🙂 Infact, I have been rather sneaky. I have been reading it on the sly, so that I can read it in peace before I read it to her 🙂

When I look back on our holiday, I am just so grateful that we get to spend this kind of time at home. She gets to know her grandparents and bask in their love. It is such a precious time. I hope that she will remember and savour the feeling for years to come, just as I still remember and cherish the time I spent with my grandparents. It also makes me so glad that she gets so much time close to nature, that would have been impossible, had my parents settled down in a city. There is something about growing your own vegetables, and living in a house surrounded by greenery. I can only be thankful for it and count my blessings.. Precious memories forever..

Cherished forever…

Rash and Pixie had tagged me sometime back to list down some precious and unforgettable memories… Here are some of my memories that I hope I never forget  – even if I get afflicted by Alzheimer’s 🙂

1. I always woke up to my father chanting shlokas in the morning.. He is a very spiritual person and he chants a few select hymns and I always remember waking up to it.. He has never asked any of us to do it and I never bothered to , to be honest.. It is so ingrained in my memory that every time I hear those hymns – I feel very peaceful . Recently I was stunned to realise that I actually know the words – without ever consciously trying to… Somehow, it makes me feel very peaceful. It is probably one of my oldest and most prevailing memory..

2. The other memory that I have is of my brother being born.. I was six then. My grandma was with me at home and my uncle came with the news that I have a new baby brother – and for some reason   I was so so sure that I would have a sister – I remember being disappointed. My brother was in the nursery when I first saw him and I was with my cousin sister and both of us had put our hands into his crib and for some reason, he grabbed my finger and that made me feel so so good – it was as if he just chose me as his sister 🙂 As if he instinctively knew 🙂

3. My mother rushing around doing stuff and father teasing her that perfectionist that she is, she will never get satisfied that the house is ever clean or tidy 🙂

4. I think I enjoyed my school life the most. We were a class of 30 and we were unbelievably united 🙂 We liked(and still do) to believe that we were absolute geniuses 🙂 and we did have one of the best ICSE results in our batch 🙂 Anyways, though we were brilliant  – we were also quite difficult.. We actually boycotted a class – because the new biology teacher tried to imply that our previous teacher(who we absolutely adored) was not very good. We drove our class teacher a little crazy – but he still admits that he is yet to come across a class like ours 🙂 I miss those friends of mine.. We were so similar, with so many dreams.. and now, when we do manage to talk – we end up talking for hours despite being out of touch for over 16 years…

5. My maternal grandfather used to be my biggest champion. He was fabulous! He had an English childhood and he used to tell me stories and stories.. To me they used to sound just like something out of an Enid Blyton book! He had his schooling in a boarding school and I remember being cray about Malory Towers and wishing that my parents would send me too 🙂 He also gave me a rude shock by telling me what sardines are! I had imagined something far more exotic 🙂 My parents used to mail him everything  I wrote and he used to write such lovely, lovely letters analysing everything and encouraging me.. I miss him so!

6. The parathas my mom used to make for breakfast when I was young.. For some reason, it still is comfort food for me and I make them whenever I want to feel good 🙂 Though never at breakfast time 🙂

7. My dad surprising mom at their anniversary! He would rope us in to hide the gift and surprise her with it when she was least expecting it ! It felt so good!

8. My husband is not a very romantic sort of person, he managed to sweep me off my feet when we got married and he showed me that he had printed out and collated every email that I had sent him 🙂 That was the sweetest thing for me!

9. In 2001, husband and I had gone on a Karnataka State Tourism board tour. It was fabulous! We had just not expected it to be so good.. It was very normal acco and stuff but we really really had a great time.. It was probably one of the best times ever..

10. When we were newlyweds in Bangalore.. we ended up staying in a really dingy house as we were quite broke then 🙂 The house might have been small and dingy – but we had a lovely time there.. We used to have friends over, cook together.. it was a wonderful time.. I have the fondest memories of living there….

So there! Those were some of the memories I cherish..

Now comes the more difficult part   who do I tag 🙂 Here goes.. I am trying to tag everybody who, as far as I know has not been tagged – OG, Winnie the Poohi, Usha, IHM, Nids, Crafty, Mystery and Goofy Mumma. Anyone else who is interested, please do take it up and do drop me a note in the comments:)

Edited to add  – Indyeah and Solilo, please do take up this tag from me too 🙂 The only reason I did not tag you too was because I saw that you Rash had tagged you too 🙂

Saritha – Please do take up this tag – I thought I had added you – missed you by mistake – sorry, sorry , sorry!

Dhiren – Apologies for not tagging you 😦 I did not know that you did not know that you had already been tagged 🙂 So here you go and please forgive me 🙂

Anybody else who is mad at me for not tagging – please, please let me know – I will tag you right away – no offense meant – this was a Saturday post – which means I had very little time to myself 🙂