If you had the power to get somewhere where would you go right now?

Memories are tricky things. Bad memories can take us to a place where we are uncomfortable and unsafe……  whereas a Good and Beautiful memory can take us to a place where we not only feel safe but also it is something that stands out in the course of our life.

In my case some of my best memories are at the fort of Sinhagad,  in the outskirts of  Pune.  The winding lanes leading to the fort are lined with little yellow and orange wild flowers. So much that from far it looks like a carpet of yellow and orange. The low clouds touch your hair as you drive up the lanes. The cold wet feeling of having them over your face  is a wonderful feeling. Then comes the lovely trek up the fort…… Yeah it is tiring but reaching on top is worth every drop of sweat. By the time you are on the top you have the blood pounding in your ears. You stop awhile to catch your breath and take a small break and drink the cool clear water from the well and then look down to the beauty of the city way below you.

Everything seems so small and inconsequential at that moment. No problem or worry seems too big that it cant be handled. You feel invincible…… you can do anything. The moment of peace envelops you and you feel calm. Thats the feeling everytime…… every single time.

That moment when all the sounds in your mind stop and you can not really speaking hear anything, is what I try to capture. I dont really have any thoughts passing through my mind at that moment….. just a sense of stillness. Nothing seems to matter at that moment. I get that feeling every single time I have been there.

I havent been to sinhagad in a very long time now…… almost a decade plus……. now that I go back and calculate. Guess I have to rectify that before long.  With the industrialisation and IT boom in my city there has been a total geographic and demographic change in the city and the outlook of the people of the city. I doubt whether things are still the same….. or is it just me who has gotten older, bitter and disillusioned.

Sinhagad has been and will be for more years than any person living right now on earth.  Only people change around it.  A new generation looking for peace and solace like I did years before…… I hope they find it as I did and still do!!!




Formula one racing in India.

Who says that formula one racing is only happening in Singapore? This weekend I was fortunate to witness the same on my way from Mumbai to Pune. Earlier I was very upset at not being able to witness the event in Singapore. I was looking forward to getting some good shots of the racing. But alas as they say Man proposes God disposes. Though my consolation prize was to watch a similar event and even participate in it in our very own city.

Strike eight in the evening and the whole expressway transforms into one big formula racing event with almost every kind of vehicle in sight participating. We should be thankful to the authorities for banning rickshaws and bullock carts else we would have seen some real tough competition to the truck and trailer drivers who do not think that they are in any way inferior to the likes of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello or at least up to the likes of Narain Karthikeyan.

Most of these drivers view the ghats as the ultimate racing track in which to prove their mettle. So this weekend we had trucks crisscrossing the maruti 800s that drive in the neck breaking speed of 200 kmph. Till now i had no idea that Marutis could go this fast and also believed that the max speed allowed in ghats is 80kmph. The added sweetness to the whole episode came from the constant drizzling rain which made the view impossible and the drive all the more challenging. At anytime there was absolutely no respect for the lanes all the driver crisscrossing and cutting each other from any side and every side.

Not to be left behind the Shivneri driver took this as a cue to show off and drove in manic speed into the khandala ghat. I was really glad that I was not in that bus. The most annoying of all was the car with a Haryana number plate which honked at almost each and every truck, trailer irrespective of whether it was a suv or HCV. It was really annoying. The worst part was the guy got away with the honking because more than one vehicle gave way. The whole event which lasted for roughly half an hour to 45 mins was totally crazy. All through this trip I had an innova or some other big long car scrap past me. Once I had also had a trailer on my tail honking and driving on me laden with what seemed to be parts of a rocket. Not to mention the eerie time when I was sandwiched between a truck a trailer. Both of whom seemed to look like the leaning tower of Pisa, defying laws of gravity or just about it. I was finally glad to get home.

I should have been glad that God had answered my prayers. But wasn’t he listening properly. I only wanted to WATCH and take shots. Guess I wasnt very specific!!!!

When I was ten and six

Lately all the posts in my blog have become nothing short of emotional atyachaar…. so I took a cue from NaBloPo and its daily topics for the month of June and this is the best topic that I could think of. If you could go back in time and meet your 16-year old self, what three things would you tell yourself?

If I had to go back in time and meet my 16-year-old self….. I would have been in the twelfth standard in St Mira’s College….. almost a purani jeans and guitar moment. Those days life was FULL up to the brim and very very interesting…. too interesting if I look at it from my Ma’s point of view.

At sixteen Life had:

Too much ambition.

New found freedom.

Lots and lots of laughter and giggling.

Experimenting with EVERYTHING.

Living and sleeping in jeans and skirts and wearing Dad’s shirts….. especially the ones he ironed the night before to wear to work….. which he absolutely hated!!!

It was the time for: Friends, making groups….. breaking them. Talking about boys all the day until you almost puked….. yeah that much….. and I did puke at the end of the day…… Each person writing a dissertation on their current love and the loss of past love!!! Man it changed very often…… used to have a hard time keeping track of everybody’s……. Flavour of the month.

Sixteen was also the era of getting proposed to almost every day with flowers, letters written in blood or maybe red ink, teddies and a wide paraphernalia of things…… usually fighting back…… slapping….. beating them……. eating flowers and becoming a walking talking paper shredder machine, specialising in shredding letters and cards into very very tiny minute particles and then blowing them in the air. Believe me the whole experience was quite traumatic causing me to stay indoors at home for days ultimately being thrown out by dad.

Bunking college and spending days in college canteen gorging on vada pavs and vada sambars or experimenting with henna designs on each other’s palms and hair styles (mine was a ladies college)

First time copying from chits in the surprise (or surprise for us as we were busy bunking) tutorials and then throwing shoes out of the window and then jumping off the window to catch the train….. the shoes first because that’s where the chits were. Using the window more than the door to leave the class.

Sitting in the last bench in class and singing songs or writing poetry or sketching and giving lots and lots of grief to the teachers.

Spending the whole of sanctuary sketching on each other’s palms or tying up two random girls’ dupatta with each other or braiding their hair together or writing notes to each other with the background music of Keshava Madhava or aye malik tere bande hum.

Bunking classes and running in the tracks to catch the 245 local and then alighting at Shivajinagar and then taking the return local back to Pune at 330 and then finally going home in the same local at 450…… our scheduled time.

It was also my first exposure to the world of electronics and telecommunication. My friend’s pa had banned her from making phone calls so we used to join wires and then make calls and then again replace the phone to its broken self. There were these one rupee telephone booths at Pune station which often malfunctioned and we could make free calls for hours….. we did not even have to insert a coin. It was like our own private hotline. Very often we used to have some person threatening another on the phone next to us…… usually had to with some girl. We also gave a lot of blank calls to all our dushman….. and sometimes to some of our could-be friends as well.

At 16 padyatra was the call of the day…… I walked and walked and walked and walked First from home to Khadki station then Pune station via tracks to Koregaon Park…. to college then to work in Camp and then from Camp to Pune station and since I was in marketing all over again everywhere. Considering that pocket-money was so less, auto rickshaws was a status symbol something I could not afford.

Covering our faces while going to the theatres to catch the movies…… lest someone recognised us.

At 16 I had my first job….. financial independence.

First love……. first break-up…… first heart-break!!!!

Read books and more books and lots more after that….. all kinds of them……. Sometimes even read more than two a day. Read my first and last science fiction and totally hated it.

16 was also the time for serious studying…… slaving over economics and accountancy…… what saved the day for me was Subodh classes’ 99 test series and French and English. I wouldn’t have scored above average without these factors.

At 16 studying was usually done in Pune University main building or lawns or in the Sanskrit section because nobody went there those days. My home would be full of my sister’s friends and lots of clutter for her impending wedding causing havoc in my study pattern eventually started studying with the radio in full blast.

16 was also the first time I went to sinhagad for the first time and instantly fell in love with it.

Age 16 witnessed my oldest sister’s wedding….. my first experience at event management….. loved every moment of it….. also witnessed a Bengali wedding for the first time in my life.

Me having some or the other issues and refusing to go back to college or stepping our of home and dad threatening me with dire consequences and repeatedly telling me the importance of education and importance of career.

16 was rebelling……. rebelling against everything and anything that came before me. Lots of screaming and shouting at home……. Ma and Pa getting lots and lots of grey hair. The only thing I spoke at home were: I don’t know, I didn’t do it, I cant do it, I wont do it, I am hungry…… anything else and Ma and Pa would have a heart attack. Eventually Ma started using reverse psychology to get me to do things.

16 was sleeping lots and lots of sleeping so much that Ma had to throw me out of the bed each day and Dad gave me a lecture on sleeping each and every waking hour even when I was awake eventually I decided if I had to take it, I might as well do the bad deed.

16 was also the time when Ma scrutinised each and every male friend of mine and froze most of them. Every Sunday along with the oil head massage I also had to listen to Ma’s speech on the virtue of women…… typical Sulochana and Nirupa Roy style…… well it worked….. it kept me straight.

16 was not worrying about weight and eating everything and doing everything.

If I had to go back and tell something to myself it would be……. Great going…… You re the best!!!!

I wouldn’t want to change a thing or do anything any differently for those days then made me what I am now and waise bhi do sixteen year olds even listen???

The Movers and The Packers

Its been such a long time since I actually sat down and wrote. One of the longest blog sabbaticals since I started blogging.

Life for me has been too unpredictable this last year and the last few months have been total roller coaster ride with Hubzz…. so much that we don’t even dare plan the next meal lest it goes awry again….. just taking life as it comes.

So many things have happened that organizing all the the events and putting all of them to a logical order is going to take a lot of time. For the present I am home back to Pune……. not visiting this time but we actually moved….. LOCK STOCK and BARREL. The dreaded 2009 ended with me totally uprooting myself from Mumbai….. back home to the land I was born and grew up……. yet strangely it feels so unfamiliar….. When I think of home these days, it is my home in Mumbai which i so painstakingly created that I think of. Here living in a rented apartment…. very close to Ma and all my family it seems different. Things have changed so much here. At times I have to remind myself that this is where I grew up.

On my short trips to Pune which usually lasted for a day or two things were different but actually living here is much more different….. you interact on a more baser level your entire perception is totally different now. So what was that that I longed to come to…… A MIRAGE???

Packing and unpacking has been a terror. The movers and packers truly moved my life…… they moved me to TEARS!!! My whole life was packed in 15 cartons and 84 packages. The memories of my life in Mumbai…… I haven’t counted!!! I have collected so much junk over the past decade both material and emotional that putting all that out of my life is going to be an effort…… the cleanliness and organizing freak in me is crying out with joy but also making me burn innumerable candles in all the ends not to mention my arthritic hands and legs which scream out now and then but now I have learned to ignore the pain. For me I just have to scream out and my whole family will be here organizing things for me…… but ten years on my own I am resisting the urge. I am finally kindof organized and even have internet which is the last stop at kindof organized.

The weather here is a JOY!!! I had totally forgotten what winter was all about. Its like an unending holiday. The first week I shifted I was wearing a sweater all day. Now I just smile…… I have longed for winter for years now I finally have it!!! In Mumbai it is only the one glorious hour in the morning that reminds you that it is winter and if you have overslept….. you have missed it.

It was very painful to leave my home. I had created it brick by brick and the last few years it was my haven and my joy. It wasn’t well endowed like the museum pieces we see in the magazines but it was cozy and most important it was mine. When the Packers moved out it looked totally bare and forlorn. I could not help but mourn about it. But the last year has taught me that looking back will only cause you pain. So I chinned up and walked out promising my home a better tomorrow as I promised myself the same.

Moving my bike to Pune was a JOY….. nope that is an understatement it was pure unadulterated BLISSSSSS!!! After years I again drove down all alone to Pune from Mumbai. Since I got sick just managing my hands and legs was an effort so driving all the way to Pune from Mumbai was pure bliss. It was like as if I got back my freedom and I could fly again……. nothing in life compares to the happiness I felt while tackling the ghats. I wont get into similes and metaphors but just that after years I felt that my clipped wings had its power again. Traveling in Mumbai locals i used to feel like the chicken in their coup before being slaughtered. The solo drive back home on my bike was HEAVEN like the flamingos. Of course I did have Hubzzz on my tail continuously giving me “INSTRUCTIONS” but since he was in the tin ka dabba…. alias CAR….. it was not difficult to lose him or the cell just not working :-D. I am a veteran at two wheelers……… I don’t need instructions!!!!

All in all the move is good!!! I meet Ma and Pa EVERYDAY…… and now I can celebrate all functions and festivals with my family. I don’t need to call my sisters just drop in on them. I spend quality time with Hubzz (his place of work is only 10 mins away unlike the three local train changes and two and half hours one way in Mumbai) and Parents and my sisters and nieces (I had forgotten what it was to be the youngest in the family) and most important I am HOME…… where I belong!!!

My very first Egg Curry

Depression did not seem to leave me in spite of all the stuff that I did. Read motivational books, walked the treadmill at home, watched funny movies etc etc. It does give you a feel good thing as long as it lasts but once it is over……. you are back to the “main aur mera saya”. Ultimately hubs dear came to the rescue and on Saturday it was just talk talk talk…… booohoooo….. talk talk talk. Till I was tired and slept.

Today morning he almost threw me out of the house to go to a parlor saying I will feel better. After staying in for days together I tried my I don’t want to go out I cant walk…… there is swine flu outside…….. even my favorite I am fat I cant go out!!! which generally works but not this time. I just went and dumped myself at my friend’s parlor and told her to transform me for better or for worse.

Did you know a haircut can make you feel so much better!!! I feel like a before and after transformation literally. Here I have to tell you that I am not at all in love with my hair which is more often than never a bother to me. I am lucky I got the right genes from my mother so I have never had to worry about hair and skin and honest to god if I knew I could feel better by just cutting my hair I would have had got rid of them long time ago. I guess you’re wondering where the egg curry came from specially since I am a vegetarian!!! OK here goes when I came back I was really feeling guilty because I had spent hours in the parlor and I had still not cooked lunch but hubby had already cooked lunch….. it was not so good but I was saved the trouble so I really really really really appreciated it. That reminded me of my first attempt at cooking!!! Yes it was Egg curry in the days when I was a non-vegetarian.

Being the youngest of three daughters and specially having sisters, I was always babied and pampered to the core and never had to enter the kitchen. If Ma was sick, it was always dad or bodidi (eldest sister) who pitched in…… sometimes even Chodidi pitched in. I always observed but never had to pitch in. After they were married if there was any requirement Bodidi and Chodidi always came over and took over. As for me it was always that : “She is very small…… she cant cook”…….. till the day I got married. Whenever my parents come home, they still cant believe that I do the cooking. My dad looks at me as if I have some hidden genie in the kitchen who cooks. When bro-in-law (I have known him since I was nine) comes home the first thing he says is “I haven’t paid my insurance premium. Think of your sister!!!!” and then “YOU COOKED!!!”

Anyway coming back to my story……. this happened when I was in college. My group was an all boys group and I was the only girl. Sometimes the other guys would get their girls but mostly it was me and them. Ravi and Prakash’s mum dad were away for a week and all of us decided that it was party time. So we all (bikers) drove down to Ravi’s place and there we all got into conversations (which usually involved LIFE) and arguments till it was time for lunch. At lunch time they all looked at me and told me that you are the girl and you have to cook. I was totally aghast and told them “go fish I cant”. I was given examples of how my friends (their girls) cooked for them and “Ladki hoke cooking nahi aata” so forth but we had to eat so Sudhir volunteered to make tea, Prakash made rice and since I theoretically knew the recipe for egg curry I told I could try. The others volunteered to buy the raw material and chop it.

So in we went for item no 1 : TEA
I entered the kitchen and was shocked to see Sudhir mix water milk sugar tea leaves all at once and put it on the gas. I had seen my Ma make tea that was not the way. To top it all he was also stirring it with a huge LADLE!!! Then we had a fight over it.

Me: sheeeeeeee yeh kya kar raha hai????

Sudhir : “Tu nikal yahan se”

Everybody actually drank that except me.

Item no 2: RICE
Prakash made it. Very simple wash rice put in cooker whistle……. off !!! finito!!! I was cool!!!

Item no 3: EGG CURRY
My turn now. I entered the kitchen on my toes (I always had the feeling that the kitchen was not my place and more often than it was coupled with toes curling and me walking on them) and Prakash who offered to help me asked me

Prakash : kya karu bol?

(There were six pairs of eyes staring at me and I had no idea what to do. I looked around)

Me : pyaz (onion)

Ravi : grind it in the mixer.

Me: “MIXER????”

Prakash immediately put the chopped onions and tomatoes into the mixer and ground them. Ravi put an IRON kadai (I never noticed that the kadai in our home was of aluminium…… I mean kadai is kadai) on the flame and Sudhir put the oil. It was my cue so I put the contents of the mixer into the kadai.

Sudhir: Wait till it boils then put the boiled eggs inside.

Vicky had already boiled eggs and shelled them. So when it boiled I put the eggs and salt and dry masala (I knew that part) and then Prakash tasted it and said that it was ok and we left it like that.

The whole lunch ready we realized that the rice was short. Sudhir again to the rescue he offered to make chapatis and then made them and then it was time to eat. After about one hour of making the egg curry everybody sat around the food like it was a new invention. Rice was served by someone and then it was the turn of the eggs. Everybody looked at it. Since I had cooked it I was asked to do the honors of serving it. I ladled out an egg and some curry and I was shocked the eggs had turned purple blue and black.

ME: “Sheeeeeeeeeeee I am not eating that!!!”

Everybody came up with theories which also included poisoning and some more interesting inventions.

Arvind: “Com on yaar……. it is the IRON kadai “.

Everybody looked at him as if he was the alien one.

Vicky had the look “You mean SHE didn’t do anything to the eggs”.

Arvind even showed bravery by taking a bite. They all looked at me to do the same.

Me: Sheeeeeeeee………. Not me…….. I am not eating that……… I am going home.

So I started my bike and went home leaving Prakash, Ravi and Vicky’s girl (who had finally come) to do the cleaning up. What???? you expected me to clean up ????? Wash utensils ???? Sheeeeeee……………….

I went home and told Ma “Khide peche…….. khete dao……. kichu khaini”……… (I am hungry….. give me to eat…… I haven’t eaten anything) immediately food came walking from the kitchen along with hot tea.

I KNOW………….. I am a pampered brat!!!!

PS: Some time later there was this time when Ma had gone out of station and bodidi had not yet come. Dad did the cooking. I offered to make chapatis. Yeah I know Dad gave me the same look…….. YOU. Remember I had seen Sudhir make chapatis in the aforementioned incident. Dad told me that bodidi was coming. So I told Dad I will knead the dough so bodidi could just come and make chapatis. I did knead the dough in the same way that I saw Sudhir do. Then I left. When bodidi came………. I saw her beating the dough with first the rolling pin………. then with the GRINDING STONE……. yes you got it right!!! I was very very very hard!!!! Dad tried with his hand…….. unsuccessful (My father strongest)!!!

Two days later Ma came back and put the dough in water for the whole day and then tried kneading it again……… unsuccessful…….. but she is MA……… never wastes………. so she tried and tried and tried!!! She did get the hang of it but also got blisters on her hands!!!

Mother and Child

At home I met this whole flock of women who had come to meet me at a kind of get together after all I am almost the ninth wonder of the world. How many people you know break both their legs at the same time??? Well they didn’t take my autograph but I almost gave it to them!!! kidding!!!! They all meant well. Most of them friends or acquaintances. Yeah I was asked the question of why I don’t have kids again and again reminding me why I stopped socializing in the first place. In some cases the woman in question had met me just a month back and I had told her. I realized she was playing rude so I told her: “Didn’t I tell you last month”, now I am not her most favorite person.

Some women even came up with stuff that some people don’t like children and so on. So now along with being an antisocial element, I was also a kid hater. I mean who does not like kids. Small kids of all animals and humans are cute – babies, puppies, kittens even piglets!!! But nah I cant convince her of that she needs her masala gossip. So I decided to oblige her by keeping quiet!!!

One aspect stood out as a sore thumb. These women were all obsessed about their kids. I know I don’t have any, which my Ma reminds me does not qualify me to say anything about them.

The mothers clucked around their kids like the kids would disappear without them around and they kept telling my mother: “Oh my son does not like this…… he will only eat this”……. etc and even went around to making it for them. I mean you have come to see me with my broken legs and started a culinary trip for your son!!! Why cant that damn kid of yours eat what is available for a change?? Another exclaimed that it was time for her daughter to eat fruits and my Ma’s fridge was raided for fruits. So much eating !!! I almost forgot my legs.

The kids were pests in their own right. (They had come for the whole day) Every two hours they would start I am hungry and the mothers would get so worried as if the kid was going to die without the snack…….. she would rush to the kitchen and cook for her kid…… who would eat a morsel and then over……… throw the rest or the mother in question ate it up. The kids were either hungry or sleepy or whiny. If you are thinking that these kids are small………. well they are not…………… some of them as old as twelve to thirteen. All of them school going!!!!

One more aspect which distressed me most was the selfish attitude of one mother over the other. Since I was immobile and have restricted movement I was confined to wait in places for long duration of time……… especially with the house being full!!! I noticed one mother filling a bowl of food for her child and when another kid’s mother asked for the same she did not do it in the same way as for her own. Then the other kid’s mother came and filled the bowl herself………… Now you tell me what the hell was that??? They are all kids and all so called hungry kids so when u fill a bowl for your kid you can also do that for another kid in the same way???

Some kind of sick crappy selfish behavior towards kids at my mother’s expense at my mother’s house in front of me!!! Is this the new trend of child rearing??? because when I was a kid I don’t remember my mom doing that for me. I was pampered but this is SICK!!!! One kid likes begun bhaja so the mother piles the kid’s plate with so many begun bhajas that I seriously doubt if he can eat so many…….. even if he can what about the other kids??? Don’t they get to eat that at all just because one kid likes begun bhaja??? what the hell was this???

I used to go to Kolkata for my holidays when I was a kid. We were a joint family then. All of us kids sat to eat together 16-17 of us. If I liked a particular dish…….. I liked it……… thats it!!! If I asked for a second helping both my sisters pounced on me telling me that it would fall short and maybe somebody would not get to eat it at all. So I never asked!!!! I was small then 5 or 6 and my sisters between 13 and 15yrs. If we understood that then whats with these 30-40 year old women???

I was sick to the core and went into serious thinking. What are they teaching our next generation? One mother claimed that to survive one must be Chalu and she was teaching her daughter to be just that and boy was her daughter Chalu!!! She was the Pest of the year…… her mother’s creation. What can I say, I returned depressed and with a heavy heart giving a serious thought whether I wanted children after all?? I know these women from before…….. they were not like this so what happened??? Do all mothers become like that do they all do stuff like this??? Or was it just a one time bad dream??? So many of them……. all the same hard to believe it is a bad dream!!!!

I always felt that I was a non-whiner until I met a whiner and realized that I am just like him!!! I hate whiners and to think that I am just like that is depressing….. very very depressing. So lots of soul searching on the agenda.

Apart from that its me and the cast in the AC in Mumbai!!! I don’t care about punching holes in the ozone layer anymore!!!

BTW whats wrong with Mumbaikars why are they not praying………… it is HOTTTTT and no rains also power cuts!!! Pray people pray………… that’s all you have in hand!!!! remember Indra and Meneka???? and Dhir I am definitely NOT dancing with or without cast!!! and Kavi no praying for raining from heart……. we don’t want floods…….. JUST RAIN!!!

bye bye khujlibaba…….. Pune here I come !!!!

It is already raining in Pune and my sisters have been calling me again and again much to my chagrin!!! I am jealous!!! But the best thing about the whole thing is that I will be going to Pune in a couple of days time and I will be able to not itch and say goodbye to beloved khujlibaba!!!

Got Ma to paint some pots…… my niece broke some of my pottery……. so ma felt bad and offered to paint some for me. The first one was for fun!!! It was ATROCIOUS!!! but she got the hang of it and after a very long time she actually painted. She was very good at such stuff but over the years bringing us up our schools then our colleges then our hobbies all of it made her give her hobby a back seat and now after a very long time she is back again at painting. The hand shivers!!! It does to all first timers but then after sometime things start to materialise and the hand becomes more steady and the outcome more beautiful. Yeah as I type she is making a very beautiful piece and she hasn’t even screamed at me for keeping my casted foot hanging for the last half an hour.

I believe that one should not give up things that one loves. It is these things that keeps us sane in very trying times and it is these things that gives our heart and soul the much required soul curry!!! Hubs boss has refused him holidays to take care of his beloved wife so I am being bundled to ma’s place……. because I am self destructive and can’t be left alone with the cast….. but hopefully after sunday it will be goodbye to khujlibaba!!!

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