Ten On Tuesday – Gaming With The Boys


When we got tired of playing the mind games these are the ten games me and boys played and mastered. We were always good at being escapists, prefered the imaginary to the real and often yanked ourselves from one world to plunge into another. We all had our “me time” but still we spent a lot of time together bonding over board games, singing, telling stories, doing some sort of art/craft, playing some real-time games which would leave the house looking like as if it has been hit by a tsunami. It was tough but it was fun.

Computer games were a new rage and the boys were fanatic supporters of  this new religion. All my efforts to keep them away from this growing menace failed and then I thought,’ if you can’t beat them join them’. WTH.. but I still laid down some rules.

And what did we play ? Here are the top ten.

1.Claw – Because I love wild cats 😀
2.Soldier of fortune – The first gory game I played where it was all guts over fear. Imagine that after yelling at the boys for behaving like bloody psychopaths.
3. Need for Speed/ Roadrage – I could never learn to drive but always dreamed of the mean machines I could control. The need for speed was satiated here and it was so engrossing that sometimes the line between virtual and real just disappeared. It was fun all right.
4. James Bond Nightfire –  The only time I could be more than just a bond girl 😀
5. Delta Force Land Warrior – My initiation into first person shooters. It was cathartic in some ways.
6. XMen Arcade Game – For the love of classic X-Men characters. Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Nimrod, Mystique and many more. At times it was ridiculously funny but a lot of fun with the boys. A comic book come to life perhaps. 🙂
7. Batman Arcade Game – Chaos in Gotham – My love for the dark knight began much before Nolan. When you have two superheros in the house you need to learn the survival techniques for anything could happen anytime.
8. Solitaire and Freecell – These were the games to zone out when the house was not a war zone with aliens  spaceships landing on your head and cars flying from between your legs.

9. Don’t think we just engaged in virtual games. There were a lot of indoor and outdoor games that were invented at the spur of the moment. Missions planned and executed, Rooms turned into makeshift WWF arenas (I was always the referee trying to save my head) 😀 , paper planes flew out of the balconies and windows with their tails in a blaze of fire, The entire house turned into an obstacle racing fast track where all sorts of cars, jeeps raced like lunatics. (my participation was limited to providing unlimited power boosters ( especially made in my kitchen) and occasionally tripping over some invisible flying object. ).. Oh yes, and picking up the debris later on while chasing the boys around to clean up.

10. Yes, I had my collection of WWE and Pokemon cards, tazzos and what not. These were guarded like prized possessions and traded occasionally with great deal of negotiations. We did play all the games with these interesting loot.

Raising boys is not for wimps and they kept me on my toes 24/7 but then it was also an adventure and great fun to grow up with them.

Monday Memories 1 – Bottomless Pits, Edible Weapons and More


I was looking for more ways of wasting time and thought of starting a new series called ‘Monday Memories’ .  There are times when some little thing in the present takes you back to some moment in the past. Some bittersweet memory comes floating to you and then the things you remember are more real than the things you see in the present. I always wondered if a moment from past tasted the same . Sometimes it does. You can actually feel, hear, see touch exactly the way you did at that moment or maybe you believe you do and that’s all matters. It keeps you going in hard times, in times of loss, separation, loneliness.

My boys are now grown up and many a time a simple little thing as a pack of cookies, a box of crayon, a song or a sentence in a book sparks a memory of  their childhood, a childhood that was an adventure for them as well as for me, and I realize how those memories are piles in endless stacks inside me.

My elder one is now 21 and I guess we spend 3,000 more hours on our first-born than the second one. Every little thing the child becomes precious. I don’t think I remember his “Firsts ” or  “Lasts” but I do remember some particular incidents that filled my young mother’s heart. Raising boys is not for wimps. It is a challenge only some can endure. I guess I developed eyes at the back of my head when Adi was growing up. He was one little explorer who was curious about anything that he could lay hands on. A complete foodie and an absolutely fearless boy. While I struggled to keep things under control without going insane he invented different ways to bring the house down. Those were moments when I cried and laughed at the same time unable to decide which was the best thing to do.  Never thought that these very incidents will become irreplaceable with time.  I had to think two steps ahead to find a way to involve him while  I went about doing my household stuff. One of them was colors. He would sit for hours totally immersed in various types of coloring material, old newspapers etc and create masterpieces on everything in the color zone including himself. He would then look around quietly, make sure I am not watching and then slip through the door with a riot of color in his little hands. He would pin it somewhere or place it where I will surely see and then hide. Waiting for me to make the move. As I said, I had somehow developed superpowers so I would know exactly what to do. I would pretend to do something right where his treasure lay and accidentally discover it. It was such a joy to see him creatively involved. I would say ‘ look what I found. This is such a beauty and who made this gorgeous piece of art? ” and he would shyly emerge from his hiding place , his eyes sparkling with joy and pride and his a big dimpled smile lighting his face and say , “me’. I would hug and kiss him and we would sit and talk about his masterpiece all covered with colors of love. For many years I kept those paintings and drawings till they were discovered by another curious adventurer who had found the art of dismantling, dissecting, tearing and making new objects what could be  anything from weapons of war to some new inventions of a technical genius. 😀 My second boy was exact opposite of his elder sibling. four years his junior he loved a leisurely peaceful life most of the time. Another bottomless pit was added to my misery. At times I thought I was created for just two things- cook and clean.

Shubhang was always curious about the “hows” and “whys” of life and he practically dismantled anything and everything to observe the intricate machinery that lay within the mundane looking objects.  If a watch was missing we knew where it would be or for that matter bigger things like camera carelessly left unattended. It would all end up in the junk box or will be discovered months later buried under something neatly tied in a bundle. One really needed a high IQ to figure out what that originally was.  Watching him working with rapt attention on some complex toy or gadget that he had decided to open up I would often marvel at the working of his mind at such a tender age. Of course I went into a rage on finding something destroyed for good but then there was some magical spell these boys put on me every time they screwed up something. Yes, they were a gang of two. Partners in crime and vowed to defend and protect each others honor at all times Unless there the offered bait was a better option :D. I had to shell out big time in kind more than in cash to get the desired information. This was the beginning of a very strong bond between them which I can see even now.

One thing one must remember as a mother of growing up boys is that anything can be converted into weapons and landmines. It is through cuts and bruises and spilling of blood one learns this unless you are prepared for it and you never are. You never can possibly know what will burst under your feet or hit you from nowhere. It just isn’t possible to know. I realized it when I watched these brats chew their toasts in shape of guns and shoot each other or target strategic places or people with things they found uninteresting to eat. Although I hovered like a chopper to watch over the proceeding they managed to turn almost anything into a missile. I just had to learn and master the art of being alive.

The space between these memorable moments were filled with hair-raising tales about which I will talk some other time and between those tales of horror I cooked endlessly to fill those bottomless pits. It was something I loved to do till it became the sole purpose of my living. “WHF, I would say , You guys just had your meal” and they would look at me with those innocent puppy eyes and I wold melt like butter on toast and tie my apron once more.

But you know what, although I could kill with bare hands and I got so tired at the end of the day that I wanted the earth to split wide open and take me in I never restricted them in any way. I disciplined them but not at the cost of snatching away their childhood thought they may feel differently.

That bond which we three developed grew with passing years and slowly we rose above the mother-sons  relationship without even noticing it. This is a friendship which I think should be there between all parents and children where the kids aren’t extensions or your subordinates but individuals. You got to respect their uniqueness and intelligence to gain respect and love. You got to listen to them, praise , them, guide them and make them believe in the fact that they can count on you for anything and you value their presence in your life.

Anything is possible in the house with growing up boys. It is fantasy land where you can trip on cars, you got to dodge flying objects and things popping out of no where, where there are no time zones, where there is battles are won and lost every day and you can hear one of the finest remixes and music pieces ever written. It is also a warm cozy zone of love and togetherness, of laughter and craziness, of pains and pleasures that life offers. Here you will find yourself floating in a cocktail of emotions almost all the time. From birth every stage of their enchanting life is an irreplaceable miracle.  You learn the biggest lessons of life and the greatest strategies of survival in this world. You got to enter at your own risk but once in you are part of the gang. Once in never out. That’s what friendships are all about.

This is for my boys with love and a warm hug. I treasure them and very proud to see them all grown up into sensitive, discerning young adults.

Memory of Memories 2- The True Indian Summer


Only two long hours in intense heat and dust of summer afternoon, with strong hot dry wind, (loo as if is referred to in India), devoured not just the body but the soul too. It simply sucked life out of me. Mostly confined to the stabilized city life of 20 degrees Celsius in air-conditioned homes, offices and even public transport, the metropolitan dwellers are devoid of the true experience of summer that sweeps northern India and some other regions in the months of April to July. With coming up of malls and supermarkets, even those visits to local bazaars, bathed in sweat and grime , laden with cloth bags overflowing with groceries etc have become rare for us.

Indian summer is not romantic, short, and full of blooming flowers and mild sunshine like the English Summer nor is it anyway near to the descriptions we read in the western stories. It is a furnace that engulfs all that comes within the range of its gaping mouth, an extreme season with heat rising from the asphalt and sweltering hot winds screaming through  towns and villages like a lunatic. In big cities however the summer almost loses all its nuances of sun and shade, thirst and cooling sherbets, sweat and breeze. There are those for whom summer is cold dark air-conditioned places and others for whom it is dusty heatwaves, sweat, prickly heat and a doomed existence under the merciless sky with sun spitting fire.

In northern India summer is a season of trees. I have spent endless summers in north and everything revolves around shades of trees for a common man and the other creatures that are destined to atone for their sins under the surveillance of a cruel barren sky.

Sitting in cool comfort of my 20 degrees Celsius room and sipping a chilled beer I was suddenly filled with a longing for those summer afternoons that stretched languorously, endlessly. When life moved at slow leisurely pace, when long power cuts made us yearn for comforts, when preparations to combat the hellish summer was a meticulously planned task, when something new was invented everyday to pass those still, listless days and nights, when adults were too wary of controlling the children and afternoons were spent under makeshift huts of upside down chairs and cool white sheets, when we read and sang and played indigenous games, climbed trees, plucked fruits or simply lazed on a straw mat (chatayi) or  under the tree shade, mainly  flaming Gulmohar, Neem, Tamrind, or Molseri, like a buffalo immersed  in pond thankful that it doesn’t have to swish its tail to shoo away flies.

Even blinking an eyelid took effort so we just lay there, very still… sometimes carelessly nibbling on a twig of grass and trying to decipher the cacophony of  crows, mynas, barbets, parrots and other birds hidden in the thickly covered branches. We even had the house sparrows then.

As the day progressed the shops pulled the shutters down, streets wore an empty look, people dozed under huge  trees in parks and roundabouts. Schools had holidays and parents had one more trouble on their mind – how to keep the restless kids engaged but we found our own ways and even conjured up mischief , knowing none of the adults would lift a finger , leave alone come chasing us.

We have lost peace and joy to comfort and stress in these modern times. There was ample time to just do NOTHING and it did not matter at all. As the fragrant mango blossoms began to turn into small green fruits, we knew it was time to gear up for yet another summer. Earthen pots (ghada and surahi) were bought with utmost care to keep drinking water cold. We even had small earthen pots called kasoras for making curds and chilling kheer and phirni (Indian sweets made from rice and milk).

Khas mats were rolled out and a systematic arrangement was made for them to keep drenched with water. The sweet fragrance still intoxicates me as I think of the cool breeze that used to filter through them to fill the curtained room.

In the evenings water was sprinkled on terrace and garden which steamed angrily but eventually cooled down under our bare feet. Wooden woven charpoys would be neatly arranged in verandas or terrace as most people slept outdoors on summer nights. A big table fan would sometimes add some music to the stillness or we would lazily sway a hand pankhi (fan) made of cloth or straw, even old newspapers served as fans .

The nights were deeper, darker and full of zillion stars. It was a fairy tale that came alive outside the mosquito nets.  We would lie down wearing the minimum clothes needed and listen to the night sounds.

The fabric used in summer was usually handspun khadi, thin handloom or mulmul ( voile). I remember cursing the men and boys for having one advantage over us girls – they shed everything except their lowers and let the breeze flirt with them. It seemed unacceptable and cruel. We also wrapped wet gamcha ( thin cotton towel) on our heads and half of face when we stepped out in heat.

Summer food included everything that acted as a coolant. Fresh green coriander, mint, raw mango, coconut Chutneys, fresh salads of kakdi and cucumber, fresh chilled sherbets made from khus, lemon, phalsa, bel ( stone apple) were kept ready at all times. Even thandai, rooh afza, aam panna, Kokam sharbat, nariyal pani (coconut water) were great favourites.

At our home there was a tradition to offer petha or peda (Indian sweets) with cold water to anyone who came from outside. It protected against the excessive heat. Various raitas ( condiments made from yogurt) were included and dahi bhat (curd rice) seasoned with curry leaves was a must every day. Curd, in various forms was included in every meal.

Most of the meals ended with mangoes. Dashehree, langda, chausa, neelam, safeda… the variety was endless. Even the little chusee aam ( to be sucked) came in abundance. Fruits also included jamun (java plum), phalsa, watermelon, musk melon, loquat (Japanese Plum) , plums, apricots, peaches and pineapples. Mango eating was a ritual in itself. Mangoes were soaked in cool water in big tubs or buckets. None ate one or two of them. They were eaten with passion and abundance with juice dripping from between the fingers. we had to drink a bowlful of kachchi lassi or mix of water and cold milk to calm the heat after eating mangoes. Green raw mangoes were used for chutneys, pickles and aam panna (drink).

Burf ka gola (balls of crushed ice dripping with colorful sherbets) , faluda kulfi were a healthy substitute for ice cream which was a luxury at that time. We even had chilled phirni, custard, jelly, fruit smoothies etc as everyone had sweet tooth.

Roasted / boiled corn cobs with masala and lime or butter and spicy tamarind chutney (Sonth)were the delicacies we enjoyed in the evenings.

A staple thing for us kids was roasted wheat flour mixed with boora cheeni (kind of powdered sugar considered to be cooling) and namakpare or mathri. Sattu made of powdered barley, horse gram and other pulses was another coolant which we had to drink with salt or sugar. I began to enjoy it much later though. Sattu is made with seven  cereals, millets and pulses.

There was a certain pleasure in sweating it out to prepare these delicious things, serve and relish them with family. A pleasure mostly lost these days, with everything delivered and available at one call’s distance.

Being born in a family which has confluence of two cultures, added to the summer delight.

The only thing that I resented as a kid was to travel in DTC buses to public libraries and cultural centres. Reluctantly I would walk out of house at snail’s pace all covered to protect myself and believed that time was a conspirator who deliberately moved slower than ever but at later stages as a teenager I began to enjoy those outings. Sometimes we also went to India gate lawns and to see circus or visit old city, monuments, parks and museums etc.

I itch to go back to those days, and to the true Indian summer which is now only a memory. I am glad that I made my kids experience at least some of it by taking them to village and other places I had visited and introducing them to many of the summer rituals that not just brought joy and helped pass the endless days but also brought the family together.

Lines from a favorite song come drifting to me …..

Dil dhoodhta hai phir wohi , fursat ke raat din ….


			

Memory of Memories 1 – Treasures from childhood


So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us.
Gaston Bachelard 

As a kid I never understood why my mother had a bagful of old letters, cards and another of little mementos, clothes from our childhood. It seemed like an extra baggage though once in a while I did do through them and listened to the stories attached. When I grew up, got married and had children mom gave my little clothes to me and said ,” theses are for your sons”.  I smiled. Suddenly there was a gush of emotions .. you know I think I got it from mom, this sentimental gush for people and things 😀

I carefully wrapped them and gave to the boys. Even made my younger one wear my parkar polka ( lehnga and choli) I am sure he hates me for this but he looked super cute 😛  . Maybe I wanted to fulfill my desire to have a daughter by dressing him like one .. Ya ya I know that’s kind of not good but then every boy is dressed in those pretty frocks as babies , aren’t they? 🙂 I will share the pic if he allows . This particular lenga I had word on my first birthday and is very precious to me.

The other thing that mom gave was a small coat and cap which I wore as 3-4 month old baby . It is still is perfect condition with no dry cleaning and all. Preserved  just with love and care.

There is some special fragrance and softness in these clothes. I had seen myself wearing this in photographs but to hold it in my hand and run the fingers on its fabric gave me a feeling which is beyond explanation.  I realized there were so many things which were part of my memory of memories. Things straight out of magical days of childhood, connecting me to those wonderful days. A little box that held my first curl of hair, my umbilical cord wrapped in cotton wool. little anklets, small silverware ( a glass, bowl and spoon).  It brought back memories of many things that were so precious to me but aren’t there now. A doll I always tagged along everywhere, picture books, scrap books, box of crayons and much more. Those were days when we had imagination and crayons instead of mobiles and play stations.   I now knew what ma must have felt to so carefully treasure them. There are letter written in colorful scribble  from me to ma, picture with alien like characters and scenery with exceptionally imaginative colors. 😀 .

Many times ma would take the bundle out and we would read and go through all of it and laugh and cry at the same time. She also managed to make the grandchildren gather around her and narrated stories about our childhood much to the amusement of the lot.

Letter writing is a lost art. I feel that nothing can replace the warmth and intimacy of a handwritten note or a hand-made card. Just as I was encouraged to write letters and draw , I encouraged my boys to scribble a few lines or draw something and send to grandparents. It always went with my letters and kids felt so proud of their feat every time , waited eagerly for mom or dad to reply. They were never directed what to write, just given a paper, pencil and colors and what emerged was a kaleidoscope of their imagination . I believed that this kind of interaction helps to develop a bond and creates a comfort zone. It sometimes even bridges the generation gap, at least it did in our family.

As they grew older and learned to write , these letters became one amazing peek into their inner world. Mom carefully kept each one in labelled envelopes with dates and time written in neat bold letters. From the time they began to hold the pencil/ color to when they could write properly. My elder one sent a lot of handmade cards and letters from hostle to both mom and me and each of us kept each one.

letters and cards from grandsons to their maternal grandmother

There is a bundle of my letters to mom and Adi’s letters to me. Pix will be added soon. 🙂

I have preserved some of the things from the childhood of my boys. Some of Adi’s stuff was buried in a transparent plastic bag as part of  Dorling Kinsley Publications  millennium year project.

I am a sucker for such stuff. 😀

Like mom I too kept the little clothes, letters, pictures, cards, toys, whatever I could squirrel away.

  Here is my elder one’s first birthday dress. (he is twenty year old handsome adult now) 🙂

Adi’s first formal wear

There are a treasure trove when it comes to these beautiful memories. I am sharing just a few. I may add a few more pictures in coming days.

I always loved book and the family encouraged reading from a very early age. Most of the books I gave to a library of a village school. The picture dictionaries, children’s literature by Tolstoy and other books from PPH( People’s publishing house), CBT, etc. Some books were handed over from my brother to me and some others are part of my maternal grandfather’s collection. Collectors issues, first prints and some now out of print editions. Here are three of my favorites from my  childhood.

The pages have yellowed with time. The books are a treasure from childhood.

The covers. These are out of print I think. In Poem Town is in 8 volumes.I have only one left.

These books are priceless treasures. Fruit Gathering ( Indian edition 1927), a gift from my grandfather’s collection. In Poem town is published by Blackie and Son Limited (London) somewhere between 1939=45). It says ‘Book production war economy standard’ and here we are talking of WW2. Now we are six doesn’t have the first page so the year is not confirmed but its yellow crumbling pages show it is as old as the other books.  I am searching for someone who can preserve these books. If someone can help , please leave a comment.

I will do yet another post as I get hold of some other precious things which are tucked away somewhere.

Do you have such precious objects? Things from childhood –  yours or your children’s? Do share links if you write about them.

Here is one more post I did long ago https://tikulicious.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/heirlooms-treasures-from-the-yesteryears/

Recollections from early childhood


“These are the quicksilver moments of my childhood I cannot remember entirely. Irresistible and emblematic, I can recall them only in fragments and shivers of the heart.”

Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

When I was a little girl I had crayons and imagination but today’s  performing geniuses only seem to have laptops, Video games, X-box, portable music players, Television and Internet. While I took pride in my collection of pebbles, marbles etc kids today flaunt their gadgets.  Six year old  Suhas is addicted to his iPad.  His life revolves around it. He throws a bizarre tantrum when told to keep it aside and parents give in just to calm him down.  Now I am not against technology but I feel that there is a loss of innocence and wonder in today’s children.

There is now a whole industry of mobile software developers competing to help people scratch the entertainment itch. There are no long relaxing hours for mind.body and soul but micro moments filled with these gadgets which fatigue more than relax the kids.

I asked little Raghav if he read the story book I gave on his Birthday and he sheepishly replied. ” No, it’s too big. I saw the movie on Video.”  Similarly,  Abha finds it easy to read some recommended story on YouTube in 6 min rather than “wasting” time on a thick book.

It broke my heart but that’s the trend these days. Children prefer the immediate gratification.

Vaibhav’s life is like a chat room. He has hundreds of friends on the three social networking sites he is member of. Virtual life gives him a kick. I asked him if he would like to visit the  science center and some other places on a Sunday, he refused. Reason- He had fixed some poker game challenge on Facebook and had to catch up with his friends. His blackberry continues to beep at all times. “It’s comforting to be connected to those who love you , you see “, he says with a warm smile.  I asked him about his family and real-time friends. “They are boring”. Like Pavlov’s dog he runs to his cell every time it beeps.

I did not want to go into the details of how technology has dug its talons into our the very core of our being but sitting on the grassy slope on this beautiful winter day I remembered how we precious those simple joys of our childhood are. I watch ten-year old Ria, oblivious to the flowers and birds around her, tugging at her mom’s purse for the mobile to play.

I don’t think we can blame the children for getting lured into this tech trap. It is parental responsibility to create a balance.  I think life was beautiful when it was simple.

I miss so many things I did as a child. Things I long to do but inhibitions stop me. I posed a question on FB today, At what age does going nude cross the line from joyful to uncomfortable? And, does that age then represent a certain kind of turning point in life, in our relationship to joy? I had read it somewhere and it stayed with me. Speaks volume doesn’t it?

Some of the beautiful memories are fairy tales from the backyard where I buried my treasures, the joy of hiding little things which at that time seemed priceless. The shells, colorful pebbles that were so painstakingly collected  and carefully placed in old shoe boxes.

Running barefoot in the rain in the lawn , on the terrace, in the field , carefree and brimming with joy , splashing water with the toes full of mud and weeds. Making paper boats and watching them zigzag through the water streaming through the lanes.

Climbing on the trees and sitting for hours observing the world beneath, legs swinging to some unheard music.

Playing marbles, hopscotch  and other local games till I was forced retreat to the comforts of home. Dirty sneakers, elastic running from socks, a bruise here and there, hair ruffled ready to face the howler which would split open along with the front door in shape of my mom.

Making tents out of sheets and blankets over the furniture and escaping into a magical world lit by torch, pretending to be  gypsy child. Here a whole new world waited to explode. Boxes and bottles of magic potions , trinkets which could charm any heart, rag dolls and colors and a candy box with gummy bears, jujubes, lemon drops, candy sticks and much more. Sometimes there were half eaten cookies too. 🙂

Those moments of sheer bliss when I wasn’t so wise to the rulings of the world. Playing chess with dad, listening to his childhood stories. Those summer nights when the electricity would go and we would sit in the darkness playing “Radio station ”  where I would be the radio station playing music, commercials and dad would in between say ” change the channel” I would voice over everything and his warm laugh would fill my little heart.

The day I learned to whistle from the blade of grass life suddenly changed. It was fun to make music in the most natural way. I also learned to make a musical instrument of sorts from dried mango seed. It was a cultivated talent to make different sounds from these lovely instruments.

When the silk cotton tree bloomed and the cotton puffs sailed along with the breeze I would run after them and collect them to fill little pillow/quilt for the doll. It was fun to catch a drifting soft cotton, resembling a snow flake, and softly blow it away. Blowing a Dandelion puff would fill the air with little dancing stars and make the heart skip a beat.

I loved making soap-bubble  and ran with the bubble wands, made of wire hangers or straw and threads, as the breeze made it dance to its tune. It was a dream fantasy to watch a delicate bubble escape from the wand and waltz along the breeze with millions of rainbow colors.

Crayons ,water colors, pencils and papers, colored chalk (have you ever nibbled on the chalk or got sprayed with a duster full of chalk dust) would keep me warmed for hours. My box of wax crayons and later the oil pastels was a wonder world where each color told a story. I found immense joy in coloring  and later watching my boys color their world with imagination was pure bliss.

Another thing I miss is the fun I had racing down the road rolling the old cycle tyre with a stick. There would be races in the lanes and by lanes as we maneuvered the  wobbly tyre and ran at top speed to beat the others screaming with glee. Same was with bicycle races where one usually emerged bruised and sometimes with torn and muddy clothes. Tyres remind me of something I long to do even now. Hang and swing to the improvised swings made with thick old tyres. It was The Thing to do on a summer day and sometime when I watch the village kids screeching and screaming while they swirl around on the swing my just want to rush and join them.

Those were the days when one didn’t care about the our sexuality, dresses, looks, time, season, anything. The dirtier the better. A little disorder in the dress was the joy of being a child.

I did play the so-called “girlie games”  with dolls and wooden kitchen sets but I was never stopped from those “strictly for boys” games and often returned home with a booty or a bruise.

Summer nights were spent on the terrace watching constellations and yearning for a shooting star. These days one hardly sees a star in the smog ridden city sky. I remember taking my elder one for walks and sitting under the star lit sky in Ranikhet during our visits there. Summer evenings spent under the shady Neem trees chewing a blade of grass and catching the glimpse of clear blue sky from between the branches was something I long to do.  It was a time to watch the drifting clouds and spin stories around the figures one imagined.

Winter had its own charm. There is an insane joy in scribbling on a steamed bathroom mirror . This is something I carried from my childhood and when my boys were big enough , we left something on the mirror for the other person to figure out. A drawing, a slogan , a note , anything. It still is such a fun. I still finger draw on fogged windows of cars, on fogged glass doors , so do my kids. It used to be fun to roll a paper and smoke an imaginary cigarette pretending to be  Don Corleone  as the water vapor from the mouth condensed due to cold.

Wading through the creek, hopping after the frogs that croaked all the time during rains , wiggling the earthworms with thin sticks, digging holes ( just for the sake of it),  catching a lady bird and watching it run around all over the hand-made life worth living.  Who cared about heat and cold, rain or dust, summer or winter? Life as a kid was all one big carnival of color, sound, light and dark.

I loved to run along the train as a small girl. Trains are fascinating. I would hear the whistle and run out to watch it emerge from the bend billowing the steam and then it would zip past shaking the earth below my tiny feet. I loved travelling in the train too. On our yearly journeys to Pune  I would stay glued to the window watching the kaleidoscope out side, the changing terrain, wind slapping against the face, the people, local food and the joy of straining the neck to watch the train turn around a bend. It is sight  I treasure.

Sneaking away from home for an adventure is something we all loved as kids I am sure. My boys did it too and now I know that mothers have sixth sense and eyes at the back of their head and everywhere. 😀

There is so much we learn and enjoy in every stage of life but those things we did as kids never return. I made sure to do all the fun things with each of my son irrespective of what people would say about a young woman with little boys  rolling down a grass slope or running from the shelter of one tree to another on a cold rainy morning in a hill station along with a little boy. Breathless, shivering, laughing and yet glowing  just like kids. I wanted them to treasure moments which will be lost  in time for good.

We are still a bunch of lunatics ( my boys and me) but we are all grown up now with so many issues about being oneself. Some day I want to relive my childhood, Do whatever my aging body permits. It’s a sad truth that we are all victims of growing up.

Play with your inner child sometime, let go, shed all inhibitions, don’t grow up so fast ..growing up is overrated anyway..

Reminiscence 2


Sleep eluded me as I tried to struggle with a bad cold and cough. In the middle of the night the cool breeze relaxed my restless heart and tired body. I tried to sit up and work on the lappie but somehow did not have the strength. The drumbeat in the cell indicated a text message. There are times when the heart is torn between longing and loss. It’s an emotion which can’t be really described.  Tears know not for what reason they flow. My vision blurred I slid out of bed and went to the terrace. Apart from a constant hum of the refrigerator the entire house was bathed in silent glow of the night-light. I still believe that heartstrings are tuned irrespective of physical distances and unseen heard melodies are the ones that make life worth what it is.

Somehow this song came flooding to my mind.

Something old dies to give birth to something new. However we may try to become a robot in the mechanical lifestyle we lead there are spaces in between that need to be filled. It is a gift one must accept with gratitude if we find just the right person to merge beautifully in those spaces.

I feel there is time and place for everything and though the heart may long for more than what is  it is best to let the relationship grow at its own pace. You can’t hurry a flower to bloom.

I took solace in his being and not being. The still night helped the unruly heart to calm a bit.

The stuffy summer air made me long for a chilled glass of water. Not a single star was visible. I dragged myself to the bed and lay down. The heart was still heavy and the brain was in blender over some pressing issues.

I must have dozed off slightly for an hour or so. A feeling of breathlessness woke me from a dream.

Stranger things have happened in my dreams but this was more of a vision than just a dream.

Dream 1

A long room with white walls, something like a waiting room filled the canvas of my mind. I am surrounded by what I call my ‘legal family’ I say this for the lack of a better word. Something isn’t right and I am thrown out on the street wrapped just in a white cloth, maybe a saree. My right foot hurts (it actually did) and there are scratched on the arms. A boy with a kettle full of hot tea and some glasses tries to help and asks for the cloth claiming it to be his. I plead him to let it be with me as it is the only thing I have to cover my body.

He tells me to run away before it is late. I drag myself as quickly as possible through dark lanes and reach a railway track. Unable to see clearly I fall and a part of the cloth gets stuck somewhere. I wake up with the hum of an approaching train.

The dream left me disturbed and in the morning we came to know  about a death of someone in the family and a preponed visit to Lonavala.

Any such event is combined with weather change. The clouds filled the sky. Though the breeze became cooler the atmosphere remained stuffy.

The second dream came the night after. Maybe it was just a fragment from the past.

Dream 2

I woke with an intense pain in the left abdomen just below the ribs. The push of the moist hard muzzle was felt very strongly. It was a big black dog. Maybe a Great Dane or a hound and it had a distinct smell.  I wasn’t scared of the beast but it hurt as it kept pushing me.

I pleaded to the young teenage boy to take the dog away but even after various attempts to pull it away the dog did not budge.

I am still finding the connection between these dreams and their meanings. Meanwhile I am trying to explore the city and hills nearby.

The old Mumbai- Pune highway wasn’t such smooth drive as it is now.  As the car zipped passed the city and the fields, the gorgeous sun slowly melted and began to flow in the sky.

I have happy memories of taking this road as a girl. The one I remember most is with my uncle on a scooter. It was fun to drive through the villages, with the mountains overlooking the green vast expanses of land.  Life was just a dream then. The drizzle brought back the memories.

It also brought an ache. Memories of love and of special places that are etched in the heart forever. Beautiful seasonal river flowing through lush green valley surrounded by mountain ranges, favorite spots under the trees,  a food stall which now doesn’t exist, the aroma of hot tea . The songs and much more that is now lost in time.

Memoir : The Black Trunk


Sharing one of my old posts from another site I used to write for.

An old trunk stood in one corner of the store-room in ma’s home. Black in color. It was a little dusty, reminder of the fact that it has not been opened for some time. I went and wiped it clean and it gleamed again. A smile came to my lips. It was not locked.

My Mother’s trunk.

I remembered how she used to open it on the small terrace, slowly taking out all the contents to air them on a sunny day. The curls of her freshly washed hair played around her lovely oval face. A stray strand of hair would bother her again and again and she would push it back with her slim silvery fingers.

I would stand hiding behind the door ,peeping at the proceedings when she would open her arms to me and say “bitia (little girl), come here and see what’s in here”. I would run and park myself in her lap, breathing in fragrance of her sarees and touch the soft silks, completely mesmerized.

I loved touching them because they resembled her own soft skin.

I would pick up the carved walnut box and open it slowly. A treasure hunt would begin. An old silver surme dani(old-fashioned silver bottle for kohl), some age-old coins, some small pictures of ma when she was a kid and of my grandparents, two curls of hair neatly wrapped in paper which had turned yellow with time. The names on them ..TIKULI AND SUBODH. Our first curls of hair.

I would look lovingly at her and she would smooth my flowing hair. Our eyes would do all the talking. The thought of my mother’s lap still makes me warm all over. I would open the velvet covered small lids of the compartments by inserting my little finger in the holes and discover some old memory.

The box had a mirror on its lid’s inside and that was a secret compartment which opened if you pressed it hard. Some old letters lay behind that, yellow pages tied with a red string. A dry rose in one of them. She would take them lovingly from my hand, watch them and put them back. They certainly were not from my dad,I was sure of that.

The vibrant colors of silk, the reds, blues, greens and gold would create magic with their shimmering texture. I loved the deep red one. My mother’s wedding sari. A benarsi sari with booti work done by hand. A rare sight. They all smelled of clove and of a fragrance which only mother’s clothes have.

Some more little jewelery boxes would emerge from below. A lot of traditional silver arm bands, waist band, necklaces, bichiyas (rings for toes) and rings. I would try them all and pretend to be a princess and ma would laugh and say she will give them all to me in my wedding. That would make my heart swell and I would wrap them all again in the safety of the boxes with expert little hands.

Once the trunk was empty ma would lift the old news paper and under that some hidden money or more letters would see the day light. Letters written by my brother and me as little children to her. She was a working woman and many a times I remained alone at home with dad as my elder brother was in the hostel.

We would read them again together as always. A special bonding session.

Slowly the lot would go back in the trunk to be tucked under one of the diwans.

Today I saw them again the sarees, the letters and the boxes. Two things were missing ..the letters behind the mirror and the walnut box. Letters, ma had decided to keep some place else and the box was given by my dad to their grand-daughter as a remembrance. The heavy silver jewelery remained with her except a few ear rings that I took.

Ma still airs the trunk with the help of the maid and I, at my home, feel the warmth of all the beautiful memories safely tucked in it.

I miss being the little girl. I miss ma’s lap and my dad’s tender love(he is no more). I miss the care and affection and all the fights and tears of joy and pain, the time spent with my brother in what was my home.

I miss being a daughter. I miss home.

Revisiting Childhood – The Toy Story


“The things which the child loves remain in the domain of the heart until old age. The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remaining over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves”.

Khalil Gibran


Toys are not merely playthings; they are tools for learning about the self and world. Everyone has his or her favorite toy from childhood. Some small little thing which can make you warm all over just by thinking about it and make you smile. Those are nostalgic moments buried deep in the memories of a glorious phase of life.

Today when I went to a craft bazaar organized by a NGO I was taken on a ride down memory lane. I did not have many toys as my parents believed in creativity and always encouraged us to create some plaything for ourselves.

Play Books

I always had books where I was able to join up the dots to make a picture, and there were also another type of book you could use a wet paint brush to bring colors to a picture. Then there were the ones which had cut outs which could standout if you pulled them, they had wheels and movable dolls and carts etc. Faces that could change emotions if you pulled them up and down.

Marbles

I had a large collection of multicolored marbles and loved to play with them. We held marble matches and kept the loser’s prized possessions. It was fun especially if there were boys to beat and I excelled in it. I kept my collection for a long time and then gifted it to a kid next door.

Eco friendly toys

My parents were always in favor of toys which were made from wood, rags, paper or clay. Materials that were non toxic and Eco friendly. I had collection of small wooden carts, a toy train, jigsaw puzzle boxes and cubes. Even dolls and other figures made of wood which moved with spring or screws.

The rag doll I had was my favorite. It was a brightly colored doll with hair made of wool. It was my constant companion for some time. Although I was not very fond of girlie toys, I loved this doll very much.

There were other smaller dolls which were mostly used by my friends who loved dolls and doll houses. I always shared them or rather traded them for sometime for something I liked, mostly the boys stuff.

We made paper boats every monsoon and watched them float away in the standing water. We used sticks to help them move forward and loved to splash in the puddles.

Wheels

An old bicycle tire was one great source of entertainment as I would roll it down the lanes running along side. There would be matches sometimes and a lot of laughter as the wheels would collide and fall in a heap.

Catapult

Another innovative thing was the Catapult made of some branch of a tree. I would select some small forked branch from a nearby tree and convert it into a Catapult, using a strong rubber band and tape. Many times my head bands would turn up in the Catapult. It was mainly used to play games and never to hurt some bird or squirrel.

Tops

Wooden tops were an all time favorite with me and still are. I had different kind of tops and when the color faded away I repainted them to make them look new. That’s wheel all the creativity came.

Then there were kites, masks, yoyo, pin wheels and rubber animal figures that came with Binaca tooth paste pack. I had a large collection of those. Then there were other Indian playthings like gilli danda (a native village game played with a stick and a gilli, which is smaller and is tapered on both sides so that the ends become conical in shape, like a cricket bail.
I even made a stethoscope using a forked branch, rubber tubes and a small lid. It was an instant hit for doll games.

Toys always brought out the creativity in me and my parents always appreciated it. I tried to do the same with my children and though they had the privilege of the new age toys, I made sure they made their own stuff too.

Once I grew up I donated most of my toys to the needy or to younger kids who liked them and were in need.

Those were the joyous moments of an unforgettable childhood, full of fun, laughter and carefree times.i

ek din zindagi ke naam..ek kahani


एक दिन ज़िन्दगी के नाम

दूर कहीं कोयल की कूक गोपी के कानों में पड़ी तो अपनी अलसाई अधखुली आँखों से , अंगडाई लेते हुए, उसने एक नज़र अपने चारों तरफ देखा और एक हलकी सी मुस्कराहट होंटों पे लिए चादर तान के फिर आँखें बंद कर लीं |

ठंडी हवा के झोके उसकी सर को सहलाते रहे और गोपी सपनों के पंख लगा मंद हवा के साथ एक अलग ही दुनिया में खो गया| आज उसे कोई जल्दी नहीं थी| ढाबे का मालिक एक दिन के लिए अपने घर गया था और आज का दिन केवल उसका था|

अचानक जैसे ही उसे ये ख्याल आया तो गोपी की सारी नींद हवा हो गयी.. पूरा दिन कोई काम नहीं ? ना बर्तन मांजना , ना लोगों को खाना परोसना , ना टेबल कुर्सियां पोंछना और ना गरम तंदूर और दहकते हुयी रसोई के साये में दिन बिताना | कुछ नहीं |

आखरी बार ऐसा कब हुआ था की उसके पास अपने लिए कुछ लम्हे थे ? शायद कई साल पहले जब बाबा और माँ जिंदा थे और वो पूरा दिन बाबा की गोदी में चढा रहता था या माँ के पास कंचे खेलता रहता था | शायद पॉँच बरस का था वो तब. फिर किस्मत ने करवट ली और सारा जीवन ही बदल गया| चचा उसे अपने साथ शहर ले आये और इस ढाबे वाले को बेच दिया | तीन सौ रूपए कीमत दी ढाबे के मालिक ने चचा को | लाडो का ब्याह जो करना था, एक एक पैसा जोड़ रहे थे वो फिर एक और बच्चे को कहाँ से खिलाते | चचा फिर कभी उसका हाल जानने नहीं आये |

गोपी ने कभी इस बात का दुःख नहीं मनाया की उसकी ज़िन्दगी को इतने सस्ते मी बेच दिया गया | हालाँकि यहाँ सुबह चार बजे से रात के दो बजे तक काम के सिवा कुछ नहीं था पर दो वक़्त की रोटी और सर पर छत तो थी |

एक लम्बी साँस लेकर गोपी ने चादर उतारी और झट से हैण्ड पम्प पर मुह धोने चला गया | थोडी ही देर में वो नहा धो कर तैयार था अपनी ज़िन्दगी का एक दिन अपनी ख़ुशी से जीने के लिए |

बटुए में से उसने कुछ पैसे निकाले और ठाठ से चाय वाले काका की दुकान पर चल दिया , आज उसने रसोई में ना घुसने की कसम खा ली थी | चाय नाश्ता करके उसने साहेब लोगों की तरह छोटू को एक रुपया थमाया और बोला ” रख ले तेरे लिए है “| छोटू ने भी हस्ते हुए दोस्त से रुपया लिया और अंटी में रख लिया

सारा दिन गोपी नदी किनारे और गन्ने के खेतों में घूमता रहा| हरीश बाबु के आम के बगीचे में से उसने कुछ आम तोडे और पूरी दोपहर आम के पेड़ के नीचे पैर पसार कर नीले आसमान को निहारता रहा|

कभी तितलियों के पीछे भागता तो कभी भूरी कुतिया के पिल्लों के साथ खेलता और वो भी एक नया दोस्त पाकर जैसे पगला से गए थे| गोपी ने जेब से पैसे निकाल कर गिने | कुछ दस रूपए थे , दौड़ कर वो फिर चाय की दुकान पर गया और एक थैली दूध और एक प्लेट ले आया और फिर खूब आनंद से सबको दूध पीते देखता रहा |

शाम ढलने लगी थी और चिडियाँ अपने घरों को लौटनी शुरू हो गयीं थी| चारों तरफ शोर ही शोर था | गोपी ने एक नज़र आम से लदे पेड़ों को देखा और धीरे धीरे वापस ढाबे की और चल पड़ा|

अचानक उसका मन् उदास हो गया | एक दिन जो उसने अपने ज़िन्दगी के नाम किया वो खोखला सा लगने लगा| सारे दिन पर नज़र डाली तो अपने जीवन के खालीपन का एहसास हुआ | एहसास हुआ उस अकेलेपन का जिसे वो ढाबे के शोर गुल और मालिक की गालियों के बीच भुला बैठा था | एहसास हुआ माँ और बाबा के ना होने का | यही सोचते सोचते उसकी आँखे और गला भर आये |

सुस्त क़दमों से अपने बोझिल मन् को लिए वो वापस ढाबे पर लौट आया| छोटू ने उसे मुह लटकाए आते देखा तो दूर से चिल्लाया ,” क्यूँ रे गोपी दिन भर कहाँ मस्ती मारता रहा और ऐसा सूजा मुह बना कर क्यूँ बैठा है? कोई मर गया क्या तेरा ?”

गोपी ने छोटू की हँसी और बात दोनों को अनसुना कर मुह फेर लिया और आँखों में भरे यादों के सागर को छलकने से रोकने का यतन करता रहा |

हाँ , उसने सोचा शायद कोई मर गया है | शायद मेरे अन्दर का वो बचपन मर गया है, शायद वो खुशियाँ जो मैंने अपने परिवार क साथ मनाईं थीं वो मर गयीं हैं, और शायद मेरे सारे सपने सारी उम्मीदें मर गयीं हैं |

ज़िन्दगी सिर्फ चूल्हे की आग में जलने के लिए बच गयी है| अब तो खुद के साथ समय बिताना भी कठिन हो गया है | शायद वो गोपी ही मर गया है और एक नए गोपी ने जन्म ले लिया है जिसका जीवन कोल्हू के बैल की तरह ढाबे की ज़िन्दगी के चारों तरफ घूमता है |

जेब से बचे पैसे निकाल गोपी ने वापस रख दिए| जितने उत्साह से वो इस दिन का इन्तेज़ार कर रहा था वो उसपर बहुत भारी पड़ने लगा था | अभी पूरी अँधेरी रात बाकी थी | सामने छाए की दुकान बंद हो गयो थी और छोटू अपने मालिक के साथ घर को निकल चुका था | कुछ दूर ,दुसरे ढाबे में आने जाने वालों का खूब शोर था और काम धड़ल्ले से हो रहा था|

गोपी ने कपडे बदले और सामने पेड के नीचे बिछी चारपाई पर लेट आसमान को देखता रहा | एक्का दुक्का तारे निकलने लगे थे | चाँद भी धीरे धीरे बादलों में से लिकल रहा था | ये भी मेरी तरह अकेला है गोपी ने सोचा| पूरी रात भटकता रहता है | पर खुद के दुख छुपा कर हम लोगों को कितना सूकून देता है | कल मालिक आ जायेगा , फिर लोग आयेंगे , ढाबे में रौनक छा जायेगी | शायद कोई ट्रक ड्राईवर फिर मेरे लिए कुछ सामान ले आये | फिर नए लोगों से मिलना होगा और ज़िन्दगी फिर पटरी पर चल पड़ेगी यही सोचते सोचते वो ना जाने कब सो गया |

ठंडी हवा ने मुस्कुराकर हलके से उसके सर को सहलाना शुरू कर दिया और चाँद मखमली बादलों में छिप गया ताकि वो आराम से सो सके | आखिर ये उसकी ज़िन्दगी की एक अकेली सुकून भरी रात थी , जहाँ केवल वो था , उसके सपने थे , उम्मीदें थीं और कुछ नहीं था |