Bangalore days and some more..

Deepavali back then meant my paternal grandma’s formula ‘legiyam’ or ‘lehyam’, my mom’s Mysore pak , rangolies, crackers, and tailored dress for the sis and I from the same cloth or at least of the same design but with different colors on them! The biggest work item assigned to us on this day would be to distribute sweets to all our neighbors in our colony, and that we did happily .

A few of my friends from our colony and I would collect empty ‘Waterbury’s Compound Red Label’ bottles and stash them away in a secret place to be used during Diwali. The open playground outside our row of houses used to be heaven. I was notorious back then too and have had very close misses with the abuse of crackers. My favorite prank was to snuff the narrow mouth of the Waterbury’s bottle’s with the rockets and pull just the wick out. The cracker would snugly fit in the mouth like a cork. The bottle would explode to pieces when the cracker burst.  I must’ve been pretty lucky because there were no accidents except once when a piece flew straight at me and tore my forearm slightly the last Diwali we were in Bangalore. Of course my parents were not aware that it was me and were busy heaping curses on some random rowdy kids resorting to such deadly pranks. I’d go mute too and so would all the partners in crime! Life since Bangalore days seems fast-forwarded!

Diwali makes me all nostalgic. Somehow, no Diwali after Bangalore ones have been the same. I guess growing up makes you all boring and serious at times J Crackers are not interesting anymore. New clothes are fine, but yeah, it is available more easily as opposed to the days when birthdays used to be the only other occasion that commanded the same respect. Sweets and savories are consumed with a touch of guilt too. Again, these are not restricted any more to occasions like Diwali or wedding. There are more special occasions now than the normal days, so much so that normal days start feeling special and you feel the need to celebrate!

But then, growing up also hurls you into another phase where you realize you are fortunate to be where you are, to be surrounded by your loved ones, to know that the other dear ones are just a call or email away and they’d be thinking and talking about you just the way you do about them, that you are free to be who you are than to be what the others expect of you, that you can fight tooth and nail to defend your thoughts and actions and not be judged for it, that you are blessed with a sense to accept your loved ones with all the dents, fractures, plasters, and their beautiful hearts just like how you are accepted..

Growing up also makes us (ok, at least me!) sentimental! Happy Diwali to you, all the wonderful people I’ve known. May this Diwali and every other Diwali light up your lives with good health, positive thoughts, and abundant joy. Always.

Love(ly) letter

So, it’s been decades since I received a cute love letter. Here is the one I got from my champ last week. And make sure you look at the trademark signature on the right bottom corner in the first pic- a tiny GUN! On the left corner, according to him, are some cowboy symbols. The ‘CBLand’ in the from address is short for Cowboy Land of course! Hail Cowboys! Especially the pint sized ones.

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The Three Veshti-keers

Vyas and his friends Ad and Ap participated in a small skit staged during the Madras Day celebration event at Hotel Green Park last Saturday. It was organized by Spring & Zoom where Vyas and few of his friends have been attending a workshop. With just an hour’s practice, the boys did a neat job. The theme of the event was Madras: Then and Now. The three-some enacted a few traditional games/activities kids engaged-in in those days.. It was quite a sight to see them play an apocryphal game of ‘paandi (hopscotch)’, gilli-danda, bambaram (spinning tops), and climb tree tops for a bite of mangoes:)

There was a cute dance performance by two kids for the same theme and they’d picked the song ‘Vasantha mullai pole’- the original and the remixed version.. Few other kids came up with poster presentations. Though I could not stay back for the entire duration, it was a treat to sit through Historian and Archeologist, Dr.Chitra Madhavan’s presentation on the lesser known temples of Chennai, an impressive account of the wonderful works of art in these temples, coupled with the mythology associated with the deities, their postures etc… One need not be a believer to appreciate the beauty of these sculptures. I have vowed to pay attention to these works of art henceforth whenever I visit a temple. Dr.Chitra also expressed concern at the kind of abuse people heap on these carvings by smearing oil, turmeric, sandal paste, butter and what not! If it helps the cause, I’d like to carry her appeal here and request folks to refrain from doing so! The deities will be immensely pleased with you if they are left in peace:)

Coming back to the games, this event has led me to reminisce about the games I played as a child. I could not help but feel sad for the things the kids miss today.. It felt weird to TEACH the boys paandi or bambaram and to think that I have spent several summers with my friends climbing up and down the mango and guava trees!! Chasing old cycle tyres/tubes with a stick, jumping compound walls with friends unmindful of the hot May afternoons, generally hanging around with other kids in the colony, chewing ‘kamarkat’ bought for 5 or 10 paise, munching on kodukapuli, settling for pallankuzhi (with tamarind seeds for the coins) or dayakattam (dice), or a big round of trade if tired of the sun, is all like a dream.. My grandma joined us in a game of dayakattam or pallankuzhi and was strict about the rules!! Now, other than the big out-door games like cricket, football, tennis etc.. , the kids seem to know little about the simple out-door games.. A dozen beyblades, remote cars, barbies, video games and the like have clearly replaced FUN. Or its possible that I’ve aged by a 100 yrs already!

Now, you tell me what kind of games you indulged in as a kid.. Do your kids play the ‘old’ games even now?

A nostalgic trip down the memory lane..

Several times in the last 2 weeks, I’ve been walking up and down the memory lane where the ultra happy moments and unimaginably sad ones lie interspersed.

A chance discovery and meeting with a childhood friend last year, whom I have not met in the last 2 decades resurrected many memories! This friend of over 2 decades has helped connect with few more whom we had lost touch with a long time ago!

The cool foggy Bangalore mornings, the early school hours, the teachers, my friends, the park, I can go on! Friends used to gather by a dozen at our house during festivals, especially during Ganesha Chathurthi and Varalakshmi Pooja, not to offer their prayers or out of reverance, but for the mouth-watering kozhakattais (modhakas) that my mom used to make.

Am amazed at how much memories and stories of that period my sister and I carry in our hearts even today and nothing comes as close to the lovely childhood as we shared. And those are our only memories of a ‘wonderful’ childhood and it seems like we were directly hurled into adulthood the moment we landed here, in the ever-warm Madras!

Life has been one wonderful, educative experience since then and am happy counting the blessings that have come my way. However (am not sure if it is right or wrong), I have been toying with the theory of a parallel universe and trying to visualize how our lives in the other universe is with some events of our childhood altered. Its nothing grand, but I like what I see there. I wish am in the middle of a dream and wake up to find myself having the best of both the worlds!! Utopia exists but in dreams!

Come summer, my sister, my friend and I have planned to travel back in time, to the places of our childhood. This time with our children and spouses, and relive those happiest moments, the stories of which we have narrated a thousand times over to our children and spouses, with all the colors, with all the contrasts!

Am happy I have people to tell stories to which nevertheless makes this Universe Utopian too! Pardon my rant!

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