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.

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!

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.

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!