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

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.

A Comfort Zone!

Since two years of marriage, I and V would discuss what all would go into our house as a part of decoration, and more importantly, as a part of home. Our closet was full of collectibles, posters, toys, books and more. An integral part of our imagination was friends coming over. We would love to have buddies coming in to create a comfort zone of their own, in our house. With souvenirs set around our new rented place, I would wonder whether someone would appreciate all the little things we are putting in to call this place a home….

Friends have started visiting us more often! Night outs are planned and they just want to drop in for a cup of tea or coffee. And when this started happening, there was no limit to our joy! May it be weekdays or weekends, we are hosting friends and it just keeps our spirits high! Relatives visited us and just said okay things about our collectibles here and there. But when friends came over, all my doubts were thrown out of the window! All of them appreciated our decor so much that my happiness knew no bounds! They even went to the extent of saying that when they get a house, I would be the one to handle their decor 🙂 The Indian seating, souvenirs on the fridge, fridge magnets, small collectibles from USA that hang on our walls, quirky wall clock, even things in the kitchen – they noticed everything, every detail!

So when the husband asks people to consult me about decor and now even friends do, it reassures me that all the efforts put in have been turning out to be delightful for all those who come over. A space they feel comfortable in, a space they love. A place they feel happy to come to. And all those dreams of setting up a house with good vibes, happiness, fun, laughter, optimism – are coming true. One step at a time, every time. 🙂

Salt & Pepper Shaker

Mr & Mrs Snowman – Salt & Pepper Shakers!

This post about togetherness is written for Housing.

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)

 

 

 

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!

What Makes It Worthwhile

Like a lot of other people, I come from a small town in India. I have spent 22 years of my life in this city called Nagpur where growing up meant being careful of a lot of things. The one thing I am supremely proud of in my life are my parents. I know I can’t have enough of that pride and have probably mentioned that in almost all the posts, but it is true. Why I come back to it again today you ask? Well, it’s a part of being grateful for certain things in life.

I have been brought up in a typical middle class family. My parents are the most humble people I have come across and the first ones I met in my life. I don’t know what changed when or rather I wonder whether the upbringing we have had was normal for that time. My parents were so normal about certain things which I did not see in a lot of my peers. Especially the way some parents would treat their daughters. If I look back now, I realise my parents never spoke of discriminating against daughters and sons. I didn’t come across this discrimination till quite later in life, and that too not from my parents’ side. I and my sister were their daughters, and it ended there. They never once mentioned a wish to have a son, or the fact that we were any less than having one. Our duties, our responsibilities were never thought over by the fact that we were girls; those were just that – duties. My mom never invited us into the kitchen to ‘learn’ the art of cooking. Both of us got interested when we felt like it and we just observed our mother in doing so. If you ask me, I don’t remember when exactly I learnt how to cook. It just came from observing my mother.

When my sister wanted to move out of the city to pursue a career, like any other mother, she was anxious. But she never stopped her; yes she expressed her anxiety but never stood up against my sister’s biggest wish. And then, which mother isn’t anxious for her child? What I find intimidating today is the behaviour of certain parents who don’t want to let go of their daughters to fulfil their dreams. I have seen so many! And trust me, such examples make me thank my parents for making us so independent. In today’s time as well, I look at girls who are scared to take a step towards their life because of their parents and sacrifice on life itself! You know, I remember an incident when we were in college and some relative visited us with his family. The way he forced certain rules on his daughter (well into teens by the way) just in terms of having meals, completely left us flustered! When we brought it up to our mother, after they left, our mother was so confident that we would run away if she had done anything like that to us! We laughed then, and now I realise how confident she was in our independence, our freedom – in us.

I see parents today, and I look at mine. I wonder what made them bring us up this way…. In the end, what makes all of this worthwhile, is the life we have and the way we lead it – with love and freedom – lessons learnt from two most amazing people in my life.

A Treasure Box

Childhood is what one goes back to more often than not. That’s how stories are formed right? Memories. Memories are all you have to stick on to, to get back to ‘those days’, live them all over again. And we, at least I, never get tired of them. Now that I am married, I realise how my childhood was shaped is so important in living life the way I want to. It also makes me realise the importance of my relationship with my elder sister. And how we have come from almost hating each other to being the best friends that we are now… This feeling was reassured when while reading Shobha De’s Speedpost, she happened to mention in one of the letters to her children about her relationship with her sisters.

For me, my relationship with my 3 years elder to me sister was a taken-for-granted one. When she was in her teens, I hated being around her for all the teen-drama that she would put up (only to be faced with them later :P). I am pretty sure I left no stone unturned in being a pesky little typical younger sibling. Our fights were ugly and nasty, thankfully only resorting to verbal ones! I guess our mother was pretty happy about that. For most younger siblings, elder siblings (without their immediate knowledge) are their personal guide to ‘what not to do’ and ‘what to do’; in general and in life. I have learnt quite a lot of things from my sister about handling my parents. Most importantly, I have learnt how life can be so unruly and so big. Big in the sense of making decisions. My sister is a perfect example of a Libran – she balances out everything very tactfully. But now that I come to think of it, I never wanted to be like her in academics. Yes, again, as any other younger sister, I would be enthralled by her wardrobe, her stationery – you know, her stuff in general. I would want to borrow things from her and be denied of it, simply because those are the perks of being an elder sibling.

The biggest academic decision I made in life was because of my sister! I knew becoming a doctor involved 9-10 years of education and that was completely out of the options! I did not want to get into engineering because I had seen my sister study so much, that too in every six months! I simply opted for a lesser chosen path, while my peers rushed towards others. And thank God I did! I love the way it all turned out to be!

So when my sister finished her degree and was all set to lead an independent life in her favourite city, I didn’t quite realise what I would be missing. We hardly had time for each other during those years as we were busy in our own lives, while also disapproving of each other’s ways. I definitely missed her, but I can’t recall why. Yes, we had our own share of gossip, secrets when we were together; but it faded when she moved to a much busier phase of life in her college. She left to build a career when I just started out on my degree college… But the phone calls brought us closer somehow, and we also started writing to each other. A year after I finished my graduation, I moved to Bangalore in search of a career.

That changed the world for me. May be because we weren’t the same anymore. My sister gave me independence, she gave me a new world. She brought me up like an elder sister. She fought for me against my family, my mother. She let me take my decisions – even if it meant learning a lesson or two from it. That said, she also acted like a possessive elder one. She bought me expensive gifts on my birthday and I would be excited as a child! We fought, we argued, but at the end of the day – we had to come to each other. Away from our family, we enjoyed each other’s company so much! She made me travel, she took me along with her everywhere – unlike avoiding me when I was much younger. We shared secrets of an adult life, whiled away weekend nights like that! She became my version of the cool mother, the supercool sister and the elder possessive brother. My first job was also because my sister had a great network and was passed on an email about the requirement 🙂

But what did not change was the fact that I took her for granted. I would see my mother and her younger sister catch up when they would visit each other, and I would wonder how my relationship with my sister would be. Only when both of us got married, I realised what I had taken for granted. Not being in the same country was something I never thought of! Hell, I thought we would end up settling in the same city! But may be the world has its ways of making you value people more, and a slightly cruel one was this.

Recently I read somewhere, siblings are soul-mates for life. They indeed are. I miss my sister on so many occasions, and I only wish that we should’ve been in the same country so that we could rush to each other, knowing that she is in reach. I could visit her, just like my mother did to meet her siblings. Forming memories… Now that both of us are married, there is so much new happening in life every day. As we take on a new phase of life there’s so much more to share – a wonderful feeling. And technology has found a way to make it all seem okay by allowing us to video chat once in a while. On those dreaded video chats we joke about being in the same country and threatening our husbands about abandoning them when in a bad mood, because we would have the sibling to run to. Where I could just pick up the phone and call my sister without thinking twice, I now have to wait a whole twelve hours to check if we can talk.

The only feeling that remains is missing my sister, along with the bright bright hope of being in the same country, sooner. All I could give her as a material gift when she got married was a hand-stitched table cloth. But emotionally, we both know what a treasure box of memories we have taken to our new lives in the form of memories, the key to which lies deep in our hearts.

Those chai sessions, those crazy weekends when an hour without chai would be sacrilege, have vanished. That cup of chai was much tastier and delectable, because there was life to share on those lovely cloudy days of Bangalore, in that small doll house of ours…

Our childhood picture!

Sister to sister!

 

A Change Of Heart

A few months back, my father-in-law underwent a heart surgery. That probably explains the title of this post…

In a year of my marriage, a lot of things have happened and this was one of them. As it always is, it was so unexpected! An adorable father who has always followed a strict routine in exercise, food and work – this came as a big surprise to us. But what the heart surgery lead to was lots of family time and sharing of lives.

From day one, as clichéd as it sounds, me and my father-in-law got along really well. Talking, laughing and sharing experiences is how we both spend time with each other. His childhood experiences, his work experience, my husband’s childhood – we have so much to talk about. We also have same complaints about certain ways of members in the house! 😀

Being the man of the house and quite a strict father, everyone is very careful with their words. But as they say, things change when a daughter comes in, which so happened. He would listen to all my requests and scolding, without any hesitation. If he needed a strict voice around, it would be mine! That period of recovery brought a new father-daughter relationship much closer. Amongst all of 5 members of the house, I and my father-in-law are winners in being talkative. It brought such a relief to my mother-in-law as she does not talk much. My only duty during his recovery period was to keep him busy all day with talks. Voila! Mission completely possible!

When I got married, I have to admit, the one thing I was looking for was my equation with my father-in-law. I have missed having my father around for ten years now, and I came with an expectation that my father-in-law will provide me with all the love that I have missed, and will require for the years ahead. It’s just pure happiness that I got to have such an adorable father-in-law who makes my faith in a father stronger.

From pampering me without making it too obvious, to making it obvious; from relaxing certain rules of the house for me to forming new ones along with me; from discussing everything he wants to talk about to listening to my views – he’s been one of the best add ons with this marriage…

His surgery gave him time off from work and stress. Looking on the brighter side, it brought him a new heart and lots of family time that he had missed while working hard for his family. It gave me so much time to bond with him, a great feeling.

As I have a habit of finding something good in everything, and now that I think of it, a change of heart brought a lot of good changes to our lives – as a family.

In The Light Of Darkness

Love...

Love…

In the era of vampires and angels, she bore two daughters. The elder one an angel, the younger one a vampire. They were treated very well by their parents, in fact, you wouldn’t be able to make out the difference between the two – both were angels! But as they grew up, the world started to see the difference and to the dismay of the family, talk about it too. The parents had never treated the two daughters any differently, but why was the world around them doing so? After all, serene white wings and halo was a much better sight than those vampire teeth…

They both grew up believing in things their parents had brought them up with. Their beliefs were about to change, and how! When they faced their own different worlds, the angel fared absolutely well, but not the vampire. She was tortured by her near and dear ones who told her whoever and however different she was, she was not an angel like her sister. She wanted to understand how it affected her living the life she wanted to. She didn’t want to stick to her community and their culture; she didn’t want to be an angel as well. She just wanted to be her, even if it meant being a vampire. The world around her was sucking her blood, deep down from her heart and soul. Ha! The irony.

When she got into her business of being a vampire, she met a fellow vampire. He was the friend she had been waiting for all her life. He was just like her, who understood her and the blood sucking world around her. He let her be her, without any discrimination. He saw the real her, because that’s all he could see. She felt elated in his company, she wanted to spend time with him and nobody else. She wanted to grow in the shade of this big tree who prevented her from the harsh rays of the sun. Well, the big tree wanted to protect her too. It was no surprise that they were soon in love, to be married sooner. All her life, she had dreamt of living on her own terms and now she had a partner in crime too! Their parents married them off and they were dwelling in their own charming world. But fate had other plans….

The blood sucking world suspected the vampire wife to be a cruel one, who was feeding off on their blood, now that she had a husband to execute the plan as well. But the couple was stunned to hear the news as they were considered the most harmless in their community. They were put under trial in the court where such grave cases of vampires and angels are heard. The angels misunderstood them and made sure every evidence is against the couple. The vampire community fought till they could and nothing more could be done. The court had passed an order and the punishment was to be borne by the couple. They broke down when they realised that the cruel world would take the lives of not two but three harmless vampires….

—x—

When she rose back from the dead, why wasn’t she surprised? Everything was how she had left it before! As if she was dead just for a moment!

The present life wasn’t much different from her previous one. She was treated differently because she wasn’t any similar to her sibling. Although she was the one who would be with everyone in their times of need, she was still not given her own identity. People would only talk about her sibling, how much ever she tried to be herself. They overlooked her genuineness, as if her existence didn’t matter. When she gave up hope, there came along a young man who found her extremely charming and lovely. She was surprised that someone could pay attention to her and of all things, love her for what she has been all through her life! He completely looked beyond her family, her friends, her sibling. He just looked at her and he saw only a partner. He saw nothing beyond her. She found him extremely gentlemanly, charming and she would realise later that he is the anchor in her life – who keeps her rooted to herself.

She was frequented with flashes from the past and she went about them pretty normally. Her worry was the end of her previous life – how would it end this time? She was determined to lead her life, her own way. She was sure the end this time would be much happier and better, with the same partner from her vampire life. Even if it meant hiding away into darkness to lead a joyful life, away from unnecessary people, into love and peace… Vampires who would find solace in darkness through sunshine from each other’s life…