Empathy

Be kind, be sensitive, be empathetic.
Be kind, be sensitive, be empathetic.

I have spoken about this before, published an article that needed to reach out to women – which involved being stalked. I don’t need to delve into surveys to find out that 90% of women/girls have been stalked in their lives by men/boys at some point or another. My experience was particularly bad for me – at an impressionable age, as a teenager and as who I am as a person. 

I was stalked by an apparently ‘harmless’ boy for five long years. He was everywhere I saw, literally following me to wherever I went – whether alone, with family or with friends. It didn’t matter to him. I was embarrassed, constantly questioning my ways, constantly tired, constantly emotionally exhausted, constantly trying not to bother others with my problem. It was also the five years that we were dealing with my father’s illness. Going out of the house to school and college was a sort of escape for what we were dealing with emotionally, as a family. But nobody teaches us to ‘talk’ about our emotions in any area in life. So why would I bother my family with what I was dealing with in school?

My peers in school made fun of the whole stalking deal because it was harmless to them. It has traumatised me, for whatever reason. I became stronger as an adult to deal with such things, to stop it from happening when I see it now; but it is something we have to do on our own. The biggest flaw/mistake of this society is making such issues normal, something that you have to take in your stride because you are a girl/woman. “Ladke to chedenge hi.” Only as an adult, did I realise how toxic these patriarchal habits are. The whole, men will be men attitude. But I wasn’t educated about this back then, as a teenager. 

While growing up, I found out from my friends what a damaging effect being stalked had upon them. It enraged me and made me sadder, not knowing they had gone through something like that alone when they were aware of my problem. It made me feel selfish too, being so engrossed in what I was suffering through. But I understood then and I understand now that it is a sensitive issue.

I lose interest when I see movies/shows/videos where a girl/woman/bunch of girls are being stalked. It is a natural process for me to just turn off. Unless it is being raised as an issue. So recently, when I started watching a movie where in the first half-hour there is a scene where a girl is being followed by a bunch of boys every day – I lost interest – although I continued to watch it in between. My partner recognised that and knowing my trauma, he asked whether he should turn it off. (That’s when you know you’re with the right person.)

When a friend suggested the same movie and I said that scene, in particular, made me uncomfortable, her reaction along with another friends’ reaction, surprised me. One downright told me that I take things seriously nowadays and the other said I should move on. Both said they have experienced being stalked and they understand where I come from. But that amazed me. This reaction doesn’t emerge if you’ve experienced it – maybe you’ve been made to believe this is normal when in truth, it shouldn’t be. Maybe you were able to move on and I couldn’t be happier. The thing to also understand here is that everybody’s process, the phase where they’re at are different. As friends, I guess I was just looking for a mere, “I get where you come from….” 

I was upset after that conversation with them, it took the better of me. It made me think if I am an over-thinker? Do I really let things get to me? What happened to me was not a big deal, maybe they’re right that it happens with almost every girl. But my self-doubt indicated that something else was wrong, I can’t be called out for being sensitive!

The next day I spoke to a friend who understands me better. When I narrated the whole incident and asked her if I was wrong, she immediately asked me to stop thinking that way. What she said after that has left a mark on me. She said, we care about everything a little bit more than others do. We empathise a little bit stronger than others do. After you’ve tried to explain the issue to them, give them some time to understand and don’t explain yourself to them any more. We can only do so much, the rest they need to understand. 

It felt nice to hear that out loud, somehow. I realised I need to filter telling things to people. I know for a fact that I can go to a limited number of friends where I will be completely understood – no judgements. Not every one of my friends is the same and it’s wrong of me to expect that. True, my intention is to make this world a little bit of a better place and I feel I should help people understand such things by telling them, for example, that body-shaming isn’t appropriate. But it’s not my duty to be the educator. All those of my friends who do not need this education, already talk about such issues publicly, sensitively. 

The power to choose lies with me. And I choose to be empathetic.

Reflections

I sit next to a sky full of clouds….
Dining table conversations with the sky…

I sit next to a sky full of clouds
Inviting me for a dining table conversation
To stare a lil’ longer into its infinite blue-ness
To rejoice over the bunch of cotton clouds it embraces
I desperately try to find out what we have in common…
The fuzzy clouds one tries to refuse to let go of
In the form of various memories, emotions, grudges and what-nots
While the other lets those pass by, them having done their jobs –
Whether for a reason or a season
The grey ones take over now, clouds
And within seconds, brighter ones follow.
All this while having spoken of in silence
The sky smiles at me
As if holding my hand, goes on to say,
Embrace comfortably enough whatever you hold
Grey or white
But learn to let go, to see a clear blue sky of your own.
Strangely, this turns out to be one of the most satiating conversations I’ve had in a long time
On a dining table.
– Nirupama Kondayya
(As I sat on the table yesterday to read a book, I saw what I’ve clicked as pictures here. And it inspired me to write what I have written 🙂)

Found You

Picture Credit: Unsplash

My phone chimes early morning with an SMS that simply says, “Found you.”

The text puts me in a state of confusion, yet why do I have a smile on my face? Am I hoping it is someone that I know? Or is it just the humour of ‘wrong numbers’ in this era? Wow, so much from a seemingly non-threatening text. Or should I be worried? Is it worth sharing with my partner?

It’s just a text.

With thoughts running in my head, I decide to pursue the text. What’s the worse that could happen; there’s no winning or losing to it. Oh wait, there is a worse side to it – it could be a stalker. But well, I have been trained as a teenaged girl to know what types of stalkers exist. I should be fine now too, I’m used to this nonsense.

My husband catches me staring at the phone since I woke up and I’m suddenly dawned with the realisation of how many possible situations I have already gone through in my head. Instead of just replying to it. And in that moment, I also realise how constantly threatened the mind of a girl/woman is.

In a still confused state, I reply to the ‘found you’ with, “I’m sorry, who’s this?” I suddenly notice the time of the text in question, it was pretty recent. Almost instantly, I receive a reply,

“So you don’t have my number.” That put me off a bit – why can’t people just answer straight away? Ugh.

“If I did, I wouldn’t ask who it is. Do I know you?”

“You used to, about 8 years ago.”

As if my mind wasn’t stressing enough, this took an unexpected and a somehow creepy turn. 8 years ago? Wow. It could be literally any one. The mind is a tricky organ, isn’t it? In an instant, it is capable of bringing up all the memories you thought you had buried. Mine was scanning through information – in which city was I; how many people I would’ve possibly met – work or otherwise. Some names I didn’t want to remember, popped up too. So much for peaceful mornings.

Suddenly, I didn’t want to find out who it was. If I didn’t have his/her number, it probably was for good, right? Why was I making myself go through something that made no sense, you know, from a third person’s perspective? Calm down mind!

So I decided to respond to the text with, “Hey, either you could tell me who you are or you’re simply being blocked.” Then something struck me, whoever it was on the other end, hadn’t mentioned my name at all! What if it really was a mistake on their end? Damn.

“Rahul from Star.” My heart sunk. In that fraction of a second, I wanted it to be a wrong number so badly. Everything I had struggled to forget, that never was, that could possibly have been. Every single thing that these 8 years were burying under their layers, just seemed to tear through so easily. As if, those layers were never even there.

I should’ve known, this whole text thing wouldn’t lead me anywhere good. Like it didn’t, 8 years ago too. I felt stupid, then. And now.

“I’m sorry, you seem to have the wrong number.”

——————————————————————————————————

This story is the outcome of a prompt titled,
You wake up one morning with a text from an unknown number that simply says, “Found you.”

Plastic Free July Is Here!

I have always been a lover of nature. As hard as it might be to believe, as a child too, I remember being bothered by acts that would disturb the course of nature, including humans.

As I grew up in my teens, I realised I was worried about the cruelty that we were putting our planet to go through. The issues related to water, especially, have always pinched me. I remember scolding my mother and family when I would feel like they were wasting water. I remember saving water after washing grains and watering the plants with it. All when I was a teen. My sister used to call me ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’ because of these deeds!

So it wasn’t a surprise when as an adult, I was getting bothered by more issues concerning our environment. I tried really hard to stick to what I believed in. Until plastics took over us. Then it all went down the drain (now literally).

Thankfully, I have a husband who equally believes in a sustainable lifestyle. Trust me, it’s a big relief when you get a partner who has the same beliefs.

It began with switching to chemical-free detergents and soaps, thanks to my then increasing eczema (which is now totally gone!). Just a day with chemical based soaps, and my hands would start spilling out blood. The organic soaps that I buy really helped me tone down my guilt by a fraction of a per cent and weren’t hard on my skin too. Then came the chucking of sanitary napkins and welcoming the all amazing menstrual cup in my life. In a sentence, it is a liberating experience on a personal level; and a cruelty-free way for the planet.

We started saving our grey-water in buckets about 3 years back. Using it in toilets instead of flushing, and washing balconies if required. Little did I know, after I joined the zero waste lifestyle group, that people were switching to that recently. I was down a notch on my guilt meter again.

Joining the zero waste lifestyle group was very recent, only this year. It happened after I interviewed The Conscious Desi for her attempt at sustainable living in a metro like Delhi. And am I glad I joined that group? Absolutely.

I realised sustainable living was what my grandmother’s generation was following (after which it slowly started getting corrupted). Which made it easier to recognise what we could refuse that is harming the environment.

If a growing city like Pune can have access to – bakeries that sell delicious biscuits without plastics, wholesale grains without plastics, milkmen that deliver milk to your home or in my case, a dairy farm where we can go and collect milk in our own can – it might be easy for you to do it too.

This attempt at a sustainable lifestyle is also helping me explore more about Pune that wasn’t visible to the naked eye!

Thanks to The Conscious Desi, I also came to know about ‘Plastic Free July‘. And if I had to recognise more of my patterns, I knew I had to take up this challenge. So here I am, Day 2 of the plastic free July challenge going successfully. I’m really hoping this works out for me so that I get to follow it forever! I’ll be updating my blog to take you through my journey.

Wish me best!

Image Source – http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/

Are ghazals dying a slow, painful death?

I caught a glimpse of the now ending Ghazal era in my childhood, thanks to music loving parents. While I grew up listening to Jagjit Singh, Chitra Singh and Ghulam Ali, I never got a chance to listen to other artists. May be they were never played at our house. But my parents were pretty keen on listening to all sorts of music. When it was ghazal night at home (our father essentially playing only ghazals that evening) the lights had to be dimmed, there were special lamps that uplifted the ambience by mellowing down the lights. The whole scene changed. And slowly, calmly, Ghulam Ali would start setting the evening through our vinyl player…

While I’ve heard only versions of the ghazalaaj jaane ki zidd na karo by Farida Khanum, I heard the original only a while ago (yes, I am embarassed to admit this). And what brought me to writing this post is the chatter of “wah wah” and “kya baat hai” in the background of this ghazal recorded live.

I miss that era.

When music meant much much more than just beats. When artists were appreciated respectfully and their songs brought meaning to life – somehow. Those ghazals would bring a soothing breeze with them. The lyrics were what mattered and the tune those lyrics were woven into brought magic. I love the ghazal aaj jaane ki zidd na karo, and that is the first song that comes to my mind when I’m humming everyday. I instantly fell in love with the lyrics, the moment I heard it and never stopped since then. We talk about love in this age, but that ghazal brings out the agony of your beloved leaving, so well. Words, sigh!

Kagaz ki kashti by Jagjit Singh is another favourite that fits into our grown up lives so well. Is there anybody who doesn’t get emotional listening to that song? Ghulam Ali’s hungama hai kyun barpa would be a treat for our previous generation, when drinking together with friends was an occasion, unlike an everyday thing nowadays.

What happened to us, I wonder. Does anybody realise that ghazals might very well be one of the dying art forms? It breaks my heart to see music being restricted to only dance numbers with occasional soulful melodies once in a while. To date, what plays after 10pm in my maternal house every night are songs from the black and white era. It never changed and I would never want it to. And those songs are the inevitably our choice whenever we resort to playing songs at night.

I have not been able to identify with songs that are created nowadays. Lately, I find myself going back to numbers that are old and settled in the 90s. But yes, my heart breaks at the thought of our next generation (or for that matter this too) not being able to understand why these slow melodies meant so much and how they were the essence of music – similar to a faint perfume that lingered on. And how I am obsessing over an almost empty bottle that I might not be able to find in the market anymore….

There’s No Age For Harassment

If you think this post is about the recent ugly events related to harassment around the country, it isn’t. But it certainly is a post about my personal experience with the act, although, quite a tad bit late.

When I was new in Bangalore, I would travel by buses that are an open invitation to gropers/harassers everywhere. There have been times when a secret act would startle me or most of the girls, but it was so secret that nobody else could notice. The one time I was absolutely stunned was while walking on a footpath. The potential man didn’t even look intimidating and crossed me coming from the opposite side, with a quick and swift grab at my butt! I spit out dirty words at him while he ran away, giving me no closure whatsoever. That’s when I realised, it’s such an easy task for them, but such a difficult memory to erase, for us.

It was only after I understood the word harassment in its true sense that I could validate what a horrid teenage life I had lived, for a while. Cut to almost 15 years back when I was just entering my teens. I was in a state-board co-ed school with really fun friends, having the time of my life, living on my own terms (at least I thought so!). In just a day, the entire-remaining 3 years of my school life (and two years ahead) were destined for a scary hell. Which, by the way, at that point in time, seemed like it would fade away. But it has stayed engraved to this day and it has ruined my school life. When people state they want to go back to school, I don’t identify with them. At all.

When I entered 8th standard, there was this silent looking boy with piercing, piercing eyes who suddenly became interested in me. Very easily terming it as love, at that time. And after that, there has not been a single day in the next 3-5 years that he hadn’t bothered me with his psychotic acts. Following me home, trying to talk to my friends, almost coming to my home, singing friggin loudly around the lanes of my house to make his presence felt, following me to relatives and friends – I was fucking scared all the time. Anticipating his next move, wondering whether he would do something inappropriate, shit scared to go to school every day, wondering what I’d do in my best friend’s absence to accompany me all the way to school and back, making sure I was surrounded by someone all the time, executing plans that I normally wouldn’t to get him off my back – these memories define my early teens. The whole school knew, they would tease him and he would smile. Oh, how I remember that evil smile. Those eyes and that smile were my nightmares. When he wasn’t around, those eyes would bother me. I wanted to know what was going on in his head. It was easy to call him a psycho but why did I have to face hell? He was never on the losing end of this all.

To top it all, he picked up bad habits and blamed it on me. He would be involved in accidents and come looking for me. And those school mates who didn’t realise the seriousness of it, would come and tease me. I just wanted school to get over! My sister and friends tried to talk him out of this but he wasn’t harming me physically, in his defense. It was such a filthy game that worked in his favour!

This continued for another two years of my college and I would be ready with a divider (the mathematical instrument), to use it if the need be. I had less people to protect me in college and something had to come handy! He would constantly come up and talk. There were people on the same route everyday that saw this ordeal, making me feel embarassed and ashamed all of my 5 years! was at the receiving end and bearing the brunt of it all.

And one day he suddenly stopped coming. You know that creepy feeling of a ghost being around? I felt like that for a long time. It has a term, trauma. My daily ritual of looking around to escape this creep didn’t stop for about a year, being scared all the time that he would pop up from somewhere one day.

He stopped his insanity, but it took away 5 whole years of my teenage life, where I was supposed to live a normal life with no complexities and complexes to deal with. Even today, people make fun of that whole time and how it was lame. If only, they were in my shoes. They think I have forgiven him. I tried, but I cannot. Because I am not a saint. Yes it bothers me, yes it might be harmful for me but since he hasn’t apologised, and even if he does – I cannot see myself giving control to him on this front. Nothing inside me allows me to forgive him.

School friends tell me at least he never spoke dirty of me. Does it matter? I have wished bad things for him, all through those five years but it never affected his life! He got away with a forgotten name and a teasing memory for people to make fun of, but what did I get in return?

I saw him 3 years ago at a wedding and I felt all those feelings rushing back to me – those fears, those dirty eyes. I felt unsafe in a crowd of hundreds. My heart beat ran faster than usual. He was clearly avoiding me, but it was as if nothing had changed. I grabbed onto my husband’s hand and unknowingly feared him coming closer. After more than a decade, nothing had changed for me.

From the bottom of my heart, if you’re reading this –

a) Please don’t let someone harass you, fight for it.
b) If you see someone being victimised, please help.
c) If you find joy in eve teasing, please stop since all you’re getting in return are curses.
d) If you know someone going through this or has gone through this, please don’t make fun of it. Talk to them.
e) And to all those who don’t understand, there’s never a closure.

A Breakfast Pair and a Recipe

It would be fitting to say that I discovered a lot of South India on my plate once I moved to Bangalore with my sister. As an Andhrite, typical meals were served to us mostly during festivals, apart from the regular everyday fare like rasam or sambhar. Thanks to my mother who was brought up in MP, we got best of both worlds – North and South India.

But when I moved to Bangalore, I started falling in love with the simplicity and complexity of South Indian food. Udupi food became my favourite with just the varieties of dosas they would bring to the table and then my sister introduced me to her favourite – Vellappam and Stew. Fast forward to 3 years from that time, and I was being served home-made vellappam-stew by my mother-in-law. Little did I know way back in 2009, that Kerala food would soon become a homely affair!

One of our friends describes vellappam quite aptly – a bowl shaped dosa with thick idli in between! My mother-in-law is one of the best cooks I’ve come across, she has a Midas Touch when it comes to food and boy there was no way I could match up to that. But learning never stops and hence I slowly dived into recipes from this state. While the batter of vellappam was simple to make, it involved preparation ahead. What caught my attention was the potato stew which is so delicious and much more easier to make. That was a relief and thankfully, I mastered the art of a near-perfect potato stew; while vellappam still varies sometimes.

And so here it is, the simplest of potato stews that you can cook up in a jiffy, literally:

Ingredients:
5-6 medium sized potatoes, roughly chopped
2 medium sized onions, thinly sliced or roughly chopped (depends on preference)
1-2 tbsp chopped ginger (an important ingredient)
Slit green chillies, as per preferred spiciness
Coconut milk – I use Maggi coconut milk powder
1-2 tsp crushed black pepper (you can add more or less depending on preference, but pepper plays an important role in the stew)
1 tsp mustard seeds
A handful of curry leaves
1-2 tbsp coconut oil (preferably) or any other normal oil.
Water

Method:
In a pressure cooker, take the potatoes, onions, chopped ginger, green chillies and water – about an inch more than after vegetables are covered. Cook this mixture for 3-4 whistles, so that potatoes can be mashed easily later.
Let the pressure release by itself.
Meanwhile, read the instructions on the coconut milk packet and prepare the thick version of milk, about 1/2 to 3/4th cup only (since we already have water in the cooker).
Open the cooker and mash the potatoes roughly. Put this back on the flame on simmer, add pepper powder and coconut milk.
At this stage, if you feel the stew requires more water, add it.
Stir to mix everything well and bring to one boil on a low flame.
Add salt, check for the need to add more pepper powder and turn off the flame.
Heat oil in a separate, deep bottomed pan. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter; add curry leaves and turn off the flame.
Spread this seasoning over the stew and close the lid for the aroma to be infused.

Till I share the recipe of vellappam, savour these with dosas!

Vellappam-Stew
Vellappam-Stew

 

The Lover of Winds…

… and everything I relate it to.

I sit facing a balcony that gives me a magnanimous view of the open skies amidst a few buildings, one of which has a castle like roof and somehow makes me feel like I’m in a fairy tale of my own. We moved to Pune 9 months ago and the first thing that made me fall in love with this rented house was the spacious design and three big balconies! One of which gives a view of the small hill range we have at the back. I knew that instant, monsoons would be gorgeous from this house. The husband and I are immensely in love with the monsoons and since last October, have been waiting for June!

Comparatively open spaces around our apartment has been a blessing – we find a daily visitor enveloping our souls with its charm – the winds! Wild, soft, breezy – it has its different moods everyday, but who’s complaining? Thanks to the hills at our backyard, these winds grace us during all seasons and have made me fall in love with this area quite a lot. Summers were a cool affair as we would graciously let the winds play around the house and our families were surprised that we spent the tropical summers without the help of a dessert cooler or just a cooler for that matter! And the sunset, oh the sunset. It’s a show of its own on a daily basis – mesmerising – to put it in one word.

I was waiting so eagerly for the monsoon here, being so close to the Western ghats, I was pretty sure it would be something different from what I have witnessed all these years from the central part of India. When the rains arrived punctually on 1st June, I was stunned! The amount of rains, the behaviour and pattern was something I had never seen before and I could only gauge what the arrival must mean on the Western coasts of India. Since then, it has been raining almost everyday or the weather is just to die for with monsoon clouds hovering above the city and winds blowing in.

What does this lover of wind find so attractive? The way it stuns me with its advent, the curtains dancing to the tune of its music, the trees swaying as if charmed by the winds, the cup of chai that it nudges me to brew and the fantastic view which we both adore throughout the day – oh, it seems like I’m having an affair with the winds!

Monsoon Clouds in Pune
Monsoon clouds in Pune

One of the many beautiful sunset in Pune
One of the many beautiful sunsets in Pune

Two Drops of Water to Spare

To be frank, I don’t when or how I became more loving towards the environment in general. I’m pretty sure it goes back to my roots somewhere, but I have no vivid recollection of it. My parents’ love for gardening sowed seeds of love towards these leafy friends, star gazing at night with my sister while she tried to figure out constellations by herself made me fall in love with the night sky, feeding stray animals and birds around the house brought in a special affection for them. I remember me and my sister were not huge fans of bursting crackers during Diwali and when our school came up with a program of volunteers for saving the environment, I jumped right in as the first mission was to discourage people from bursting crackers.

Then came a phase in my life where I realised my love for water in all its forms. As I grew up and the world around us started becoming careless towards the very source of our existence, something didn’t seem right. The growing scarcity of water and the fact that our country is very much water-based (in terms of daily chores) didn’t make sense. What made sense was the effort that we could bring in to slightly change our habits, but it’s been years and everything seems to be getting worse. Thankfully, I found a partner who agreed on my thoughts of hating water wastage and had stood up against it in the past, during our school days. Together, we began our own mission of wasting less and less water and utilising so called unusable water – limited to our world of two.

When we were in Nagpur and heard about the drought that had affected Marathwada, we were concerned. Concerned because we were soon moving to Pune and the thought of adding a burden of two more people to the already suffering region, made us feel guilty. Friends and family were concerned how we would manage with limited supply of water and somehow, that was never on our list. It’s been six months since we’ve moved here and the shocking part was to see people waste so much water in this already affected city! It burnt our hearts when we saw people wasting water in Nagpur and it makes us cringe when we see that happening here – a drought declared region. Selfish race, we are.

And then, I decided to share small everyday habits that I and V observe to save as much water as we can from our side. Our two drops, but makes us feel less guilty. Whoever reads this, in whatever city or country, please keep in mind that small steps go a long way in creating a sustainable environment. Whether you have excess water or just the right amount, remember, that someone somewhere is craving for a drop of it.

1) Use buckets for bathing, not showers – Buckets ensure a limited amount of water usage while showers are supposed to be indulgent.
2) Store water in buckets and use that throughout the day in toilets. Don’t flush for peeing. One flush wastes a whole lot of water than is required.
3) Water used for washing vegetables, or used just to clean utensils without soap – collect and save it through the day. Reuse this water for plants in your own garden and for trees around the house/building.
4) Collect water required to be let go from RO water purifiers. Use it in washing machines, to clean utensils or store them in buckets to use in bathrooms.
5) Wash balconies (only if the need be), bathrooms or toilets with water collected from washing machines (collect this water through each cycle) or if you have a maid for washing clothes, save that water in a bucket. It already has soap and can serve the purpose. You can use this water throughout the day in toilets as well.
6) Don’t throw away drinking water remaining in bottles, collect this as well for usage in bathrooms or for plants.
7) Wipe your cars, two-wheelers or cycles with a wet cloth daily. Resort to washing only if the need be and in less frequency – once in two weeks may be.
8) Please don’t leave taps open while brushing or washing hands. Fix leakages on priority.
9) If using washing machine, use it once a week for washing all clothes together. Clothes can’t be that dirty. Please think twice before using the machine since it requires a whole lot of water; and do try to reuse that water.
10) If taking a shower two times a day is a habit, do let that go.

I really hope these small steps are helping in some way or the other. If you have any more suggestions, I would love to know. Anything to help save water!

Image source – petapixel.com

 

Remembering Words of Wisdom

Lately, I have been missing my grandma on and off. When she was alive, I never thought I would miss her. Now this is my paternal grandmother I’m talking about and she lived to be a 98! I had a good yet different relationship with her all through my 25 years of life. Nowadays when I see an old woman walking by, I think of my grandma or bamma as we called her.

Bamma was a self-made, self-taught woman from that generation. She was married to my grandfather at the age of 13 and since then, had been a great housewife, a great mother and a definitely an amazing grandmother. When people in general and my friends talk about food cooked by their grandmother, I have memories of none. Either we were too busy, or she was old already. I mean, at times I wonder and crave for that warmth that comes from a grandmother through food. Of course, it’s not like I haven’t tasted any, but very few. I never regretted it when she was alive, but somehow I miss that now. My maternal grandmother also passed away when I was pretty young so there are no food memories from both sides!

But what bamma always preached to us about was being self-sufficient, self-dependent and a self-taught person. Regardless of gender, she would preach about that to all her grandchildren. So why do I recall her preaching now? Because I understand what she meant, much better now. V and I moved out of our home town Nagpur a month back to live in Pune. And you know what? I have been loving it ever since. I take immense pride in the fact that we have no help around the house and every chore is done by the both of us only. Instead of dividing responsibilities, we go with the flow. We cook for ourselves and friends, we do the dishes on our own, we wash our clothes daily and we clean the house by ourselves. And I love this independence more than anything. We’re dependent on ourselves when it comes to chores. And almost everyday I think of bamma. She always, always appreciated people doing things on their own. She took greater pride in that.

One of the things you realise when you grow up is that all those conversations and pieces of advice from elders hold a very important place in your life. If you think coming from that generation bamma was a very meek old lady, you’re wrong. She is one of the egoistic women I’ve come across in my life and egoistic in a good way. I like that and wonder whether I am even a pinch of that. I never saw her praying in the house, though she would keep chanting His name. She stood by what she said, stubbornly. She didn’t require help in all her life, except for the last few months.

She would’ve appreciated men from this generation who help out their wives. She was a perfect blend of orthodox and modernism for me. And here I am, just a small fraction of her blood, remembering her in the simplest of things.