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.

A City, An Emotion

The other day, V and I were on our way home from a routine road that I could walk blindfolded. After all, I have an almost 28 year old love-hate relationship with this city – Nagpur. Every road is an etched map in itself.

This city holds all my memories, it holds my life in its hands. Childhood memories, growing up years, college years, friends from all phases, good and bad memories, my darkest secrets – it is holding everything in it safely as I am holding them. Sometimes its scary isn’t it? Or is it not? The fact that your best friend and this city knows everything about you, inside out. Only difference is, one can spill it out while the other will make you go through those moments everytime you get out on these very roads. The city doesn’t care if you had a good time or bad. It just means to show you what your life has been.

And that particular road didn’t exactly bring back good memories for me. But on the other side of that road was an area where I had spent the most fun time of my childhood. This was definitely irony for me. It was like standing at cross roads, only, I had chosen my path way back from this junction. I’m not regretting anything I have done in my life, but this road reminded me how simply blunt our lives can be – in a good way. There’s no need to hide, no space to hold back. Everything is an open book in the form of a city! Sometimes you can’t even look at a building and speed up to avoid it, while other times, you crave to go to another that has been an important part of your life.

The city, its roads, its lanes and by-lanes are a chapter-wise book – you just have to flip through and its similar to being in a time machine. What varies though is, you know how to come back this time. How not to mess up the future. And how happily to live your today.

A city is that part of your soul, which refuses to leave you, how much ever you want it to. On the contrary, its the same city that runs through your fingers like sand, when you try to hold on to it tightly. It’s an emotion of another kind.

 

Gorgeous Nagpur Sky!
Gorgeous Nagpur Sky!

Why I chose Malayalam Movies over Bollywood

Ever since I remember, I’ve been a fan of movies. Thanks to the parents for giving me a flair of appreciating meaningful movies. As I grew up, I also started liking no brainer ones. Especially since I started working, I realised no-brainer movies were a good way to keep your mind at home and just relax while being amused at the stupidity portrayed in such movies. No doubt I never missed good, meaningful movies which everyone else chose to ignore because it looked ‘serious’.

Me and my sister (especially) would indulge in movies from around the world and different Indian languages too. Marathi movies were a regular feature because we were born and brought up in Maharashtra. We somehow never stuck to Telugu movies since they came across as really useless. But to our credit, we watched a few black and white Telugu movies which were simply marvellous. I had always heard about Malayalam movies being brilliant. And then I fell in love with a Malayalee, following which my heart told me to listen to Malayalee songs (sigh! What all love makes you do!). Thanks to my many Malayalee friends, I decided to watch a movie too. My first ever Malayalam movie in a theater was Ustaad Hotel. I was instantly awestruck by just the opening credits of the movie – what brilliance! As the story slowly unfolded, I completely enjoyed the concept and how routine – yet different – the story line was. I had made a choice, unknowingly, then.

Within that same year I got married and moved to a different culture. Everything was so normal and yet so different. I was being made comfortable by the in-laws and every day was turning out to be a fiesta of finding new things about each other. Then came a Sunday wherein the highlight was watching Malayalam movies through out the day! Old movies, new ones everything was on TV and I happily took in the experience. From Mammootty to Mohanlal to Biju Menon to Dileep – I watched recent-old movies. And like a true Malayalee, chose my favourite amongst these – Mammootty.

Ustad Hotel featured Mammootty’s son Dulquer Salman, and I had loved his acting in that movie. Then came another Sunday with new Malayalam movies! I was completely amused by the new generation of actors doing such good, meaningful movies, complete with all the works. I couldn’t choose just one from this new generation. Dulquer Salman has a class in his acting and also the ability to make us judge his acting as very relatable. Nivin Pauly (my personal favourite :D) dawns each rolls to the extent that one tends to forget he’s a celebrity. Fahad Faasil almost made me put him in the category of a serious actor until I saw Oru Indian Pranayakadha. Asif Ali has been growing in every movie and has never disappointed me. Not to forget Vineeth Srinivasan who is jack of all and master of all! Singer, actor, director – been there done that-type!

The woman clan is no less! Nithya Menon, Parvathy, Nazriya – all of them taking the wonderful de-glam quotient to another level. That is also what makes these movies relatable – I can see a part of myself in Nazriya from Bangalore Days – the efforts to make your husband happy. Nithya Menon sneaking out of the house to pursue a parallel, fun life of singing in Ustaad Hotel. Parvathy playing the role of a handicapped RJ who assures us that any dream is achievable and possible. And my favourite from Bangalore Days – Kalpana, who plays the role of Kuttan’s mother, is brilliant in portraying what a frustrating life she has led, according to her.

Another great factor about Malayalam movies is secularism, owing to reality in Kerala. Everyone lives together – Christians, Muslims and Hindus – shares each other’s joys and sorrows. Yes, communal riots are also more prevalent in the same state, but it has never given me a negative feeling. My father-in-law has numerous stories to tell of friends from different religions. And we still make sure to visit them when on a trip to Kerala. The same has come into movies. Whether it was Mammootty playing a staunch, rational Hindu Brahmin in Drona or Nivin Pauly playing Kuttan from Bangalore Days – the role play is impeccable.

The thing about Malayalam movies, in my opinion, is that they blend their everyday, subdued life with the now-changing city life very well. The innocence of a child, the dumb illusions of a teenager, the confusion of a pre-adult and the current situation of moving to new cities – nothing makes you think “this doesn’t happen”. It does, or at least it’s possible. Romance, thrillers, politics – everything is portrayed with great efforts. May be that is also the reason that Bollywood is now turning to remake these movies! Malayalam music is definitely worth a mention too. What freshness! You assume that a certain song will go this way but there are a whole lot of surprises in just one song! Yes, I will take nothing against Malayalam music 😀 Take a look at their movie posters! No wonder Malayalees are great designers.

Of course I have my preferences in Bollywood too. But if you ask me today, I really have to think twice before deciding to spend so much on a Hindi movie, unless the trailers assure me that they’re rather worth the money. Given another choice at hand, I almost prefer watching a good Malayalam movie at home rather than pondering over a Hindi movie. I see myself turning into the better Malayalee (hey, movies are very important) and even being agitated at the fact that Malayalam movies were not being released in Nagpur. But once they did start, I blindly booked tickets to Premam, coming out fully satisfied with the real movie experience.

'Premam' written in Malayalam, shaped into a butterfly!
‘Premam’ written in Malayalam, shaped into a butterfly!

Source – http://www.bharatmovies.com/

 

Dark Clouds

I craved for this since long
Peace, chai, winds around,
Glimpses of a favourite season
Add on to the list of reasons,
Are Indira’s horses really running over my head?
With thunderous feet and sudden screeches?
The sky changes colour in no time
The winds playing with Neem leaves, as if narrating a mime.
I wonder where those peacocks are spreading their gorgeous wings…
Then I look inside my heart and find it peeking.

 

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)

 

 

 

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.