Sister Act!

As a kid, when my mother’s only sister visited us or we visited her, I would always wonder how me and my sister would be at that age. Especially after being married. As time passed by I would adore the way my mother and her sister would talk about their lives in a very simple and innocent manner; sharing experiences, updating each other. I have an image stuck in my head of the two, where they would fall into their afternoon naps while talking about their lives. Both me and my sister always wondered whether we would behave the same way?

When my sister visited me after both of us got married, it was a strangely formal feeling. My formal farewell to her from a married woman to another, hit us both. And her moving to the US changed things drastically. When I visited her recently, we spent the best of time together. In fact we realised that both of us have never spent such time together, owing to something running in parallel – studies, jobs. We had an amazing time doing nothing but sitting with each other, conversations flowing throughout. And both of us remembered my mother and her sister. We laughed, we adored them and most importantly we understood them.

Now when my mother is turning 60 and my aunt is turning 56, I laughed at the way they were arguing recently! When they were leaving from our house, I stood there and wondered whether me and my sister would grow old the same way. Will we argue even when we turn 60?! They know each other inside out and even mend their ways to get things done, simply to keep each other happy. Isn’t that sibling love? The thing is, we never imagine the future in terms of age. I never imagined any of the people growing old around me. And now when I see these two sisters, it brings so many emotions and thoughts as to what and how will the relationship with my sister be.

As I saw my mother helping my aunt with something, I saw an elder sibling and a younger one. Although they looked their age, they still portrayed a youth that probably stays with siblings all their lives.

 

Sister Love!

Sister Love!

(Source – http://bit.ly/1a1akRa)

 

 

 

A Place Called Home!

I got married 2 years back to my childhood friend. With marriage came changes, lots of them, and I had to leave Bangalore to stay with my husband and his family. Because of space constraints we would spend the day at my in-laws’ house and the night at my mother’s house. This system worked because my mother’s house was a stone’s throw distance away!

Everything was fine till both of us started getting tired of shuffling here and there. The stuff was divided, and so were we. Sometimes it would get irritating to find out that what we require is at the other house. But we stayed on, since both of us were looking to move out of the city for better opportunities. We would visit exhibitions, people’s houses and take notes about what to buy from where, when we move into a place of our own. Travelling would also bring us opprotunities to collect souvenirs that just cannot be missed. I would ask all my friends and relatives to bring me fridge magnets as souvenirs too (I still do though). But those too, were never in front of my eyes.

All this shuffling got the better of us and we decided to rent a house of our own in the same city, till we move out. Many arguments and worries later, both of us were convinced that we can manage on our own. After all, in their era, our parents had managed to give us a good lifestyle, that too with children.

A ray of hope was right beside me when I imagined and thought about finding a place soon. Things fell into place so quickly, that we found a decent house in a quieter neighbourhood with accessibility to all things. And within a week, that ray of hope led us to this house that now we call of our own.

From buying appliances to helping each other out, it’s an adorable beginning to a new chapter of our lives. A neem tree and a bel tree call us their home already and we find solace in them too. Friends have started visiting us more often with our place to call as their own. And it’s nothing less than joyous when friends find their comfort zone in us.

It was in that moment of hope when we decided to take this step that I could sense a new world building around us. What would be different in our world? And here I have all the answers – a fresh new start, finding out that the other person is a surprise in many ways and holding each other’s hands through this whole process. It was and is – just a matter of faith and belief.

The Bel Tree!

The Bel Tree!

Souvenirs on the new fridge!

Souvenirs on the new fridge!

 

This post about optimism and hope is written for Housing.

The Cracked Bowl

Ever since I got married and found out that my husband is a foodie too, I have been more interested in cooking. I never would’ve thought that I would take up baking in my life! And yet I plunged into it wholeheartedly. 2 years of marriage gave me very little time to experiment with dishes although I would try and cook as much as I can. But the time after getting married has always reminded me of how simple things, that moms put into a recipe, turn out to be so yum!

This was reiterated yesterday on a food show that I was watching. The chef says that the beauty of home cooked food is that there are hardly 5-6 ingredients used in a recipe and the dish turns out to be heavenly! While he was being served food in a village in Punjab, straight from a mother’s kitchen, I noticed that she served him curry in a cracked stainless steel bowl. And it caught my attention like a memory does – long and lingering.

The simplicity of an Indian household lies in naive things, routine things. The kitchen is a very important part of our lives, which includes food. Unlike the plush crockery that we use nowadays, stainless steel plates and bowls have a different meaning. They speak of home. I have always looked back upon memories – of food being served in steel crockery. And never melamine plates! Even today when my mom suggests using melamine or glass crockery, I simply want to relish food in the good old steel ones!

There is no embarrassment in our kitchens, especially in villages, for food being served in any type of  cracked container. It’s just a sign of home, of acceptance, of food being more important than the serving dish itself. Like a mother’s hand, the serving dish holds the same importance since it holds the most special of recipes!

 

Steel Glass that holds the holy filter coffee!

A steel glass that holds the holy filter coffee!

Of Libraries And Feelings

What is it in a library that makes one so happy that sometimes it is inexplicable? These two years in Nagpur made me reconnect to reading.Very few books for two years probably, but it was the only thing that made me stay at home – happily. Two weeks back I wanted to buy another book, and I sighed as I missed having a decent library in this city. When I googled for one that might be available, I almost jumped out of my seat when I saw the name ‘Just Books’! I checked their website to confirm whether it is the same one we had in Bangalore, and voila! My smile just grew broader!

Surprisingly, I never joined that library when in Bangalore because of work. Nagpur gave me a chance and I went to check it out the very next day! I walked as fast I could so that I could just be there, among those books which I could possibly own; at least partially. Being there I realised that this is only the second time that I was going to become a member of a library and how much it means to me right now – at this time. It might sound dramatic but I had tears in my eyes just to see all the books that I could get my hands on. I regretted the fact that for 2 years this city couldn’t come up with a library like this and now it suddenly appeared – to my delight! I enquired about the membership and left, determined to come back and become a member sooner.

This library is located in a quaint little locality. Strangely, being closer to a busy street yet being a quiet place, gives it another feel. The place is done up very well and is adoringly inviting. It’s a comparatively small one, yet has been given a nice look. They even have graffiti at the entrance!

The graffiti!

The graffiti!

When I became a member and was returning home with two books in my hand, I felt possessive of those books – in a good way. I held them close to my heart and realised how this whole idea calmed me, I’m not sure of what though. It just felt relaxing and…. happy! The anticipation of finishing these books and coming back to more, the excitement of being tech savy in the library’s own way, the membership card – all make me happy. In fact the excitement has made me finish one book already and am onto the other! I cannot wait to go back and browse through the books again. I keep imagining what I could possibly find on the shelf that I can pick up.

What is it that makes the walk to and from the library so memorable? Like everything else it’s a pretty routine chore. And for that matter, I am not even a voracious reader. But that memory from last week is still fresh in my head. The walk towards the library being fast and enthusiastic. The walk back being a feeling of calmness holding those two books in that strangely calming society. The flurry of feelings that shake up your heart in a good way. The possessive feeling towards those books.

The answer, for now,  lies in the very name of the library – just books.

Fuel For The Soul

A Teapot set that I own!

A teapot set that I own!

Chai has always been an eternal part of my life. Always. I can’t remember a time when we ever denied having chai. I got scared a while ago when I thought I had reached the saturation point of having tea! Thankfully, it was just that – a scare.

Over a period of 27 years of my life, I have come to know tea in ways old and new. I can relate chai to so many things in life. My mom hails from Madhya Pradesh where the day does not begin without a cup of tea. I was introduced to tea not just as a beverage but something that refreshes you. After a day’s work, mom and dad would sit down to have some tea to probably come out of the work day. When we all would clean the house together, there would be innumerable chai sessions in between to keep us going. Come winters and we would just look for an excuse to have tea in those chilly Nagpur winters. To quote my mom, “Hamare ghar pe to chai ka bartan gas pe chadha hi rehta hai!” (We drink so much tea that there is always a vessel on the stove ready to brew some!) While others would resort to cool fruit juices during Nagpur summers, we would drink tea believing in the proverb – heat minimizes heat (loha lohe ko kaat-ta hai)!

One of the reasons me and my sister look forward to train journeys is because of the tea that keeps coming every five minutes! Train journeys, road trips, bus travels are incomplete without stops for this beverage. Travelling and tasting roadside chai also meant finding out which city’s tea is a must try! Tea hopping of its own. And by far, Jodhpur’s chai is the best on my list!

Weekends in Bangalore were not weekends until me and my sister had n number of tea. We would find excuses to drink chai and also for who would brew it… Office was nothing without tea. Most of our ideas would have to be discussed over that and not in conference rooms. Thankfully I have friends who adore tea as much as I do. And also some who love ‘Parle-G’ with chai! Have you tried it? You must.

My sister’s in-laws would always prefer filter coffee – till they got to know us! And I was only delighted when they absolutely loved the way I brewed tea. Can you believe that they have only tea when I am around? It’s such a great feeling to be appreciated for something so small, yet so important.

But to the disappointment of me and my sister, our respective husbands do not prefer tea at all!! I still sarcastically ask my mom how she could get us married to boys who do not love chai (but in my head I am seriously thinking why she didn’t consider that :P). It was only joyous for me and my sister when I visited her recently – we could have all the amount of tea we want. You would wonder why? Because tea, for that matter even coffee, is only enjoyed when somebody is besides you to share it. I still have a hard time if my mom-in-law is not around me while I am having tea; even if she’s not drinking it.

There’s a routine that came into existence on its own – I can never have tea in a rush. It always has to be with some good time on my hand so that I can soak into its goodness. I get irritated if I have to drink it in a rush and I even avoid having it if I can at such a time! That brew is so special everyday… It is one of the things I look forward to during the day. Chai makes it special.

There are so many memories filled in that one cup of chai. If you ask me, the glass is always full for this one!

White Beauty

I’m getting ready to leave tomorrow for India. Just like that, 6 weeks are over and I didn’t even figure out how! All through the trip everybody kept wishing that I get to see snowfall, since I am leaving on Thanksgiving day. But I wanted snowfall to happen just before I leave since life sort of comes to a standstill here when it is snowing. I left it at that. Since two days my sister and brother-in-law have been checking the weather and telling me that it’s going to snow just a day before I leave. I certainly wished that happens!

And then came today where my sister woke me up to witness the season’s first snowfall! I woke up to this beautiful white day, experiencing the magical feeling of these pretty white granules falling from the infinity of the sky above me! The whole scene looked so pure in white! The trees that have been stripped off of their leaves were being embraced by snow, as if to tell them that they look pretty even when they are bare. I couldn’t believe my eyes since this is the first time in 27 years of my life that I am witnessing snow and snowfall!

An hour or two later, the snowfall hasn’t stopped and white is the colour of the city, accumulating more of snow. As I felt snow on my hands, it brought me so much happiness to see them settle on me. Moments later they melted away, reminding me gently, that this is what living in the moment means. This is what temporary means. Small joys do exist!

I am writing this post facing the balcony, trying to fill my eyes with as much snowfall as I can! Predictions are that this will continue for almost 24 hours since it started, and I don’t want to miss any of it. I can just imagine the painter above being extremely happy and throwing snow around to create a canvas that I can neither buy, nor preserve. I just have to etch it all in my mind and heart.

It’s a happy thanksgiving for me indeed!

My first snowfall!

My first snowfall!

USA Diaries!

Ever since I have come to the US, I have two posts in the draft and do not have time to continue! It has been a good time here with my sister A and the first few days we would just talk through the day! We’ve been keeping each other busy with stories of life after the big M (marriage)!

Weekends have been busy with travels all around. I landed here at such a good time to see fall. I didn’t even know there could be such pretty colours on trees and bushes – shades of a season that makes you realise nothing is permanent, in a beautiful way. Three weeks in and the trees are already shedding leaves or have rust coloured leaves. I am experiencing winter of a kind that I have not experienced before and it feels good because it makes me realise I have been lucky to travel all the way over here. Who would’ve thought?

While on weekdays A and I spend time at home, we realised that we have never been able to do so before. Of course all the years of growing up together come up but we’ve always had something going on in parallel while we stayed together. Now after all these years, we get time to sit and have nothing going on in parallel, which is interesting in itself because we got to spend some quality time together. What makes it interesting is the fact that we both got married and life changed!

As I stood before the Washington monument one day, I realised how lucky I am to have been given this opportunity of travelling so far away from India. I smiled to myself since it was like a dream coming true. All thanks to sister A and bro-in-law B! It was nothing short of a wow moment; and there have been so many on this trip!

I have so much to write about on the blog about this trip but believe me or not, I didn’t find the time! So although this post comes only a week before I am leaving for home, I hope I regularly update my thoughts and experiences under ‘USA Diaries’!

Visiting US of A!

Year 2014 will be ending on such a good note for me! What better way than to sign off with a trip to the US of A!! My first visa that too a tourist one and to USA!

Finally after missing my sister, I asked her if I could make this trip and she readily agreed. Okay. Also, I have so much time in hand that taking this trip seemed like an awesome option 😀 My husband was kind enough to buy me a visa and thanks to my sister, I am leaving this Sunday for this epic trip! As the day of travelling is getting closer, it is actually a bit unbelievable that I am doing this, alone.

I’ll have so many things to see there, experiencing a new culture, spending so much time with my sister in a new country altogether… It feels great! It’ll also be an opportunity to miss V, which is sometimes needed right?

So, brace yourselves! USA posts and pictures are coming 😀

Nostalgia

Sometimes my mind wanders off to so many thoughts that I get tired even after doing nothing! Does that happen with some of you too? To keep this monkey mind busy, I resorted to packing (yes, all by myself!) and watching a channel that I’ve been waiting for so long to come! And which also made me happy on the movie appetite as I’m having You’ve Got Mail for dinner! 🙂

As I was about to have my evening cup of tea, the doorbell rang and I completely went into nostalgia after looking at my childhood maid! She used to look after me when I was in class 2. She hasn’t changed a bit in so many years, and apparently, so haven’t I! I was overcome with that warm feeling when we had a hearty chat. There was genuine happiness in her eyes to find out that both I and my sister are married, how often do you get that? We ended up chatting about how the people you know since long are the ones you truly rely on, even without realising it. How it feels normal to go back to such people. And I suddenly realised the meaning of being a ‘grown up’ – there was my babysitter who had taken care of me so well and here I was today, after so many years, to be having an adult conversation with her. Life does come a full circle, huh?

As I watched her leave, I was overwhelmed to realise that sometimes all you need is a memory from the past and you end up feeling so…. normal. At such times, life seems simple to me, doesn’t it? That is the time when nostalgia means something to you.

Vacation Shopping!

Before any vacation begins, one question that always arises is – what to wear?! For guys as well, accept it boys! Probably a tad bit boring part, isn’t it? This whole vacation shopping? Sometimes I wish we had all the categories of clothing ready for us at any time of the year. Technology needs to look into this direction 😉

Shopping can still be done with a lot of enthusiasm, but the boring and hard part appears in the form of – packing! What to pack, what not to pack, will this be enough or should I carry less? Thankfully, I have a husband who can take care of the boring part 😀 One of many important pre-conditions concerns before marrying V was him agreeing to packing when we go on trips 😉 Thankfully, it worked in my favour!

Nonetheless, just the excitement of going on a vacation with the love of your life, has got me into the mode. There is nothing else that can match up to the excitement, the shopping, the packing! And hey, I am not complaining! 🙂