My family lived in the US briefly, many years ago. Prior to that life was smaller in many ways. There were no 75 channels on tv and there certainly was no Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Presidents Day and what have you.
We had Children’s Day where we most certainly did not get to escape from school; were “nudged” into elocution or essay competitions eulogizing the first Prime Minister of India. We had Teacher’s Day where the teachers got a break..sort of. The place I did my middle school from, had the 10th graders dress up in sarees or salwar kameez and the younger classes were allocated to us to manage while the teachers had a break for a day. Lunch was organized for them and there were no classes on that day for anyone. Good times all around. But the concept of Mother’s Day being a thing and a big one at that is something I got to know when I was in 3rd grade. Still a newbie of sorts to American life.
Our teacher who had an unfortunate way of looking strict while she wasn’t too bad in real life had us make little accessories for our mothers. Small pieces of what looks like particle wood to me now were available for us to color on and then a pin would be glued on the back and it would make a lovely brooch for our moms.
In theory so many things sound good. Doable even, but give a bunch of kids glue and craft products especially a goggle-eyed one from India who is new to the concept of pipe cleaners and googly eyes and you get something like this-
My mother in her infinite wisdom *never* wore this except for the time I gave it to her. Given that she had nothing which would offset this and she never went trick or treating either, this brooch was consigned to her drawer of special things, displayed prominently but sensibly not worn.
She preserved this, possibly as a reminder to herself that Art and her daughter were not intended to be friends. Over the years I’ve got a laugh out of jiggling the brooch so the eyes jump up and down but for the most part this work of art remains misunderstood and has more depth than anyone has possibly gauge.
As a parent I find myself doing things which have an echo from my childhood. The things my parents did, decisions they took etc.
Just over the past few days I’ve had a few instances come up which have made me hark back to my (extreme) youth, am still youthful by someone’s yardstick so I won’t say when I was a child.
I don’t remember which grade I was in but it was possibly the same as TO, 6th grade, when we had to study the Roman civilisation and back then computers were mainly used to reference the library catalogues instead of having a whole digital library’s words at our fingertips. At least for the grade school students.
I remember not having enough information to choose from while writing my paper and the books at the library in my school were all checked out by my classmates.
The Encyclopaedia that my father had loving bought for our home had a LOT of information but it was still a bit too much, all crammed into one place for me to pick and choose the right bit that I needed for my paper.
With my father (and by me, many a times) to think is to act. He saw I was getting stuck and he didn’t remember enough about the Roman Empire form his own school days to be able to help so he did the next best thing- he ran down to the neighbourhood Barnes and Nobles and got me a paperback which are nicely illustrated for kids and it had so much useful information culled out just for kids.
I got to know about aqueducts, Roman city states and the simple language of the book helped me pick and choose the right kind of information for the assignment. And getting access to the right information at the right time helps in forming long term memories with useable information even now.
Fastforward another 30+ (ahem ahem) years and the information is still largely available in my mental database…the city states, the Roman roads which led to the coinage of “all roads lead to Rome” and of course the Roman orgies! Beautifully detailed and portrayed by Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny in the timeless Asterix series, everything was another look into Roman civilization; albeit cheekily at times.
So when I heard the familiar words from TO’s Humanities teacher over the speaker, it was a very familiar trip down memory lane…over Roman roads one could say…
A year back on this day, I was standing in line to board a flight to Dubai. I would then catch another flight to Barcelona and in a day meet my closest pal in the whole world and do whatever the heck we felt like!
I wasn’t feeling like a child on the first day of school but there were some butterflies because I was travelling alone internationally for the first time and that too for a longish distance.
And for the first time in a while I wasn’t shooing along a child, managing more bags than I wanted to or promising junk food and artery-hardening gratification to a small human while I shooed him along.
The journey was blissful. Red had made sure I was traveling in more comfort than I usually do and I’m glad he did because I love my creature comforts and inside my head I revel in putting on a snooty voice saying, “Don’t mind if I do” when offered a glass of champagne from a stewardess.
My closest passenger was an elderly Arab gentleman who seemed disturbed that I was tucked up to the chin in a blanket, drinking alcohol and enjoying the gratuitous violence of the John Wick series. He kept clicking his tongue, shaking his head and probably praying for my lost soul.
My trip was eventful in many ways but the only thing that keeps coming back to me after a year is that I was supremely happy!
Walking along the streets of Barcelona and Madrid with one of the people I love the most; taking in the new sights, enjoying the crisp 6-7 degrees Celcius (44 F ) temperature and enjoying a semblance of winter for a change.
The food, the language of the people and the sightseeing just helped round off the most memorable trip ever! And I’m raring to go back!
For everything else there *is* Mastercard. Or Visa as the case may be.
Let’s start with a bit of a context for this statement to make sense to those it hasn’t. My father’s a career banker. He has hopped all over the country before retirement and taken us with him. And while many don’t like the gypsy life, if you’re born into it; you don’t know any different.
In every place we lived in, local sightseeing spots, some out of the way spots- nothing was left to be explored. And during holidays, we explored places which were doable (7-8 hours in usually a white Ambassador without AC) and that was not only an eminently acceptable way of spending time as a family- it was the norm. No place was left out- religious ones, historical ones, architecturally renowned ones…nothing. As a result, traveling was understood as what “one did” because something was out there and it was meant to be seen.
After the initial bouts of motion sickness passed, we would sleep turn by turn. My mother would always be very strict about nodding off while sitting next to a driver, those being the days before airbags and seatbelt’s in India, and anyhow who needed to snooze would need to head to the backseat and another person would replace them up front.
If the terrain was unendingly dull and unchanging, I would be asked to play word games or just conk off till we reached the next rest stop. Stocking up on a list of junk food curated by the child was an unheard concept till our generation became parents and the kids became the ones who dictated how the holidays would be spent.
And while having money was an enabler then, is one now and will always continue to be one, the focus wasn’t ever on going to “good places”, staying in a posh hotel or having a pool to jump into at the end of the journey. It was all about the parents opening the eyes of their child to everything they could about the country they lived in because the knowledge could help them in a future geography test. Kidding…
I remember very little about Lucknow- I think I saw it as a toddler. I have vague recollections of seeing goldfish somewhere and my mother said it was in the Chhota Imambara.
When we moved to Delhi, Appu Ghar was a favourite that I got to indulge in infrequently. But we went to Surajkund quite a few times and it was fun for a preschooler!
I remember skipping and jumping on the steps and being told to be careful and not fall into the dirty, stagnant water-yes..that was my mother’s worry. I don’t think she’d have minded a dunking in free-flowing water much.
I have lovely memories of Koliyak in Bhavnagar as an 8 year old and even better ones as a 20 year old on a return trip to the place.
The Queens Botanical Gardens, the Orchid shows, the trips to The World Trade Center, Bronx Aquarium and of course Coney Island were par for course since those are outright sight seeing spots but those have been the kind we visited the least.
We would still hop in the car and take off for whichever river, dam, temple, palace was worth seeing-never mind how far. The further it was just meant the earlier you got out of bed to start off. And over the years indelible memories have been formed at Menal during the monsoons and at Bundi which we just swung by since it was “close by”.
Of course the memories of eating pipping hot mirchi bhajjiyas in the pouring rain, on the side of the road also stands out vividly. Our driver, Chhattarsingh ji used to drive a tank in the army before he retired and joined the bank and the car used to be a toy in his hands. He loved to take us around the different tourists spots and would never say no to a hot cuppa!
We’ve done pav-bhaaji picnics sitting near the Mahi River, eaten deliciously unique cold curd set in stone plates after climbing up 7000 steps to the Palitana temple. I’ve travelled through pouring rains on a Kinetic that clearly was more than up to the task to see the Champaner fort and then semi-trekked up to the extremely crowded Pavagadh hills. And it’s all been terribly interesting to say the least!
The ruins of Dholavira, the terracotta temples in Bishnupur, the Gol Gumbaz up close, wandering around lazily in Bidar fort, crossing over on the ferry in Hampi and coming face to face with him- cannot be replaced!
In this year and in the months to come, any sort of travel may seem like an indulgence because of the risks associated with it and yet people will and are stepping out.
They are opting for road trips, choosing their next travel experience with more diligence and curiosity than ever before because traveling was never something that anyone was told they couldn’t do. Staying at home under duress was never a condition we had to wrap our heads around.
So when given the option to indulge- materialistically, gastronomically or whichever -ally it may be…try and choose an experience related to travel. It’ll stay with you always and you’ll be replaying bits and pieces of it in your head over the years to come.
I know the references to Corona-impacted travel have been overdone, but with no clarity in sight about future travels, modes of recreation etc people are harking back to the good old days. Sadly for some of us they were just a few months ago. Check out my posts on my last trip here and here.
Social media platforms and photo-sharing sites have cottoned onto the idea of ‘Memories’. What were you doing on this particular day in the past. Say 3 or 4 years ago. And since our smartphones are an extension of our hands these days, most of us were doing a heckuva lot and the pictures speak for themselves.
Our family had taken our first holiday together to the mountains of India. The Kumaon part of the Himalayas to be more specific. TO had done the entire trip via trains and road and was amazed at the amount of things he saw.
A flight ends up having an amount of sameness to it after a point. And so do the actions associated with it. Go to the airport, check-in, keep an eye on the kid to make sure he doesn’t wander off, buy him KFC stuff before boarding all the while promising that yes, once we board, he would still get his Cup O’ Noodles as well and possibly some juice too!
There’s rarely any drama on a flight. Loads of it while traveling by trains and right from the time you enter the railway station. It’s a different kind of world altogether. With everything from livestock to fresh produce to wailing kids to frantic people and in India, usually a yelling patriarch of a family herding everyone in the direction of the train which is about to leave.
Railway stations would make for lovely dioramas I’ve always thought. But enough of that later. Onto our journey and why I woke up feeling nostalgic.
My child has traveled in trains before. With people and prehistoric pets both, he’s not fussy, but he’s not landed in a mess of a station where people are pushing and shoving like it’s their goal in life (aka Nizamuddin in the rains and Delhi people doing what they do best!). Neither has he looked out a window and seen mountain tips in the distance and taken in cleaner, fresher air all around him.
In 2017 we took a very memorable trip to Binsar, Uttarakhand. Red and I had been around the area before but for TO it was really quite an adventure. The poor thing emptied out the contents of his stomach all the way to the resort because of a lengthy diversion we had to take due to some road repairs. And he bore it like a champ. Of course, I defy any child to be like a parrot on steroids after having puked continuously for 3 hours. That he was still semi-bright eyed was good enough for us.
The resort was lovely. With mists hanging off the trees, big-ass monkeys threatening us from disturbing their morning rituals and lush green views of valleys and mountain peaks. The local cuisine was quite different from what we were used to back home but both Red and TO have simple needs- their idea of soul food basically forms the foundation of all Indian meals across the length and breadth of the country.
We stayed in a hut on stilts and I had the camera set up on the tripod the entire time to take pictures of birds and long-tailed ancestors who kept dropping by to steal our food.
TO showed his chops by giving Red and I a thorough drubbing in Monopoly and the three of us cuddled together under the blankets while it rained and turned the whole area a bit gloomy but pretty nonetheless. He did zip lining from a fairly high point and yelled in joy just when he landed safe on his feet. I, with my usual aim and focus, used the rifled to pop balloons but possibly knocked a few leaves off their stalks. You know…the good stuff!
A family trip is rarely without drama. Especially with hyper people like myself in the mix. But every so often we stop to take a breath and look around us and just take it all in. And those moments are what you remember one fine day when you wake up under semi- house arrest and longing to hit the road.
Here’s to better times for everyone. May you have your travel dreams fulfilled!
Check out these links from my Insta feed for some images of our trip:
Yesterday TO just semi-yelled out, “Oh darnit!” and I peeked out of the kitchen to see that the child had a nosebleed out of the blue! Since we are partial to him retaining his blood inside his body, Red and I rushed to see what the reason was.
The child in question wasn’t terribly worried barring the fact that his chunky mother hovering in front of his face was blocking his view of his laptop and wouldn’t you know it, that’s the time he’d decided that his online classes just couldn’t wait!! Never mind the other times when I’m dragging him out of bed so he can join his classes on time and not be a mini-zombie.
Anyhoo, after the usual “keep your head tilted, clean your nose out, stick this cotton up there, take this icepack” maneuvers, the flesh and blood pronounced himself to be nosebleed-free and fit as a fiddle. That is until I asked him to do some chores while there was a gap in his classes. Suddenly those few drops lost came to haunt him and he felt that he must sit down in an AC-cooled room and get his strength back a little bit.
Am grinning today while I type this out but trust me, I was anything but jovial yesterday. I’d called my mother in a hurry because I was prone to nosebleeds as a child although under slightly different circumstances and she lingered along Nostalgia Lane for a bit till I rushed her to the point where I had a possible solution in place. But the trip back to the #thetimesthatwere made me look back at things at a different time and place all day long. Maybe I needed a break from chores too, maybe it was from my family or maybe I wanted someone to dunk my feet in bubbling water that had Epsom salt, scented oils while I sat in a chair massager…oh baby!! Wait! What was I saying again?
My brief segue into salon porn aside, I was BADLY nostalgic yesterday. Am nostalgic at the drop of a pin most of the times and this staying inside is bringing out the #throwback vibes emos even more.
Speaking of emos and doing chores around the house, see how an adorable 5 year-old used to help his mother while getting into potentially dangerous situations (what can I say, I have a boy!)-have a looksee here!
For the uninitiated, I am a mother who is TERRIBLY fond of her child, the way he was. I am still getting used to who he is now and while the fondness remains, we may be reaching a GoT-kind of situation where vengeance and clashing swords could very well become the order of the day! Hey, the kid’s got the dragons part down pat, what did you expect?
More nostalgia posts to follow. For now, the Mother of the Dragon 2.0 has to rouse the sleeping cub and get him off to his “meetings”. Ah, the sweet life!
Back in the day when the word ‘meme’ was still gaining traction, I had NO clue what it actually was. And for a person like me to admit that is HUGE. I think Red (the Lord&Master, for the uninitiated) will do a happy dance just reading this bit. Anyhoo, when I came across ‘meme’ I used to pronounce is as ‘mee-mee’ and thought it meant stuff that people wrote about themselves ergo the ‘me’ part being fulfilled. #bigtimefacepalm
Later on when I got wise to the notion and most importantly, the pronunciation, I changed tracks and stopped me-meing all over my erstwhile blog. But while I was still headed the wrong way, I wrote this post and I still kind of like it so am reposting it here. Oh naiveté…
I love my time alone at home. Well am technically not alone. But in a way I am. Booga Booga Booga!
I love making up silly songs for my kid. Most of them are recycled tunes but the words are FRESHAA!
My ideal job would be where someone paid me to read the books that I want.
I love bean bags.
There’s no food like Chinese food. Even the kind the street vendor sells.
I always apologize to my kid (when he’s asleep) for having yelled at him or spanked his bum.
I am inherently lazy. I act busy to confuse others 🙂
If I could, I would travel and read all my life long.
I am getting addicted to online shopping. Or for now, online cart-filling.
I buy bubble wands et al saying it’s for my kid, but I’m the one blowing bubbles all day long 🙂
I am a bit of a snob for brands but it’s under control now. I think. I hope. Erm…not really.
AND…I am narcissistic enough to go back and re-read this meme even after I post it here and cross-post it on FB and Twitter 🙂
Am very happy that the written word endures and because of it I was able to picture myself smooshed into a beanbag and tapping this out 8 1/2 years ago when life largely consisted of running behind a kid and wiping his butt half a dozen times a day and blowing raspberries on his tummy whenever I could.
5 girls met. Talked. Slowly at first and then incessantly. They sat in the last benches of most of their classes. Had some adventures. Loads of giggles, some fights. Went through a bunch of guys. Made other gal pals and 20 years later are still around in a pretty good capacity given that work, home, spouses, kids and pets do make their presence felt quite a bit on a daily basis.
College was such a melting pot. You had all the directions of the country converge along with linguistic and religious backgrounds and still found that you fit somewhere; with someone. And you wore each other like gloves and the fit just got better with time with a few mends here and there.
There were classes where you each were at sea, and then those where you still had the chance to sail through. There were gaffes, bloopers, red-letter days and some days you’d rather really just never remember again. There were fests and fiestas where you met the next few months’ rides in the form of people (ahem..guys) from other colleges and also did a quick dipstick to see if you were on the right end of the social spectrum when compared to the rest of the lot out there. Fashion played a big role. Some were gawked at, some gaped at and some just grimaced at as a bad idea never to be repeated with oneself.
You had days when the homework hadn’t been done and the entire class (barring the usual goody two-shoes suspects) was asked to leave by the lecturer with clenched teeth and furrowed brows. There were classes which were bunked at the proverbial last minute to go watch a newbie director’s movie premiere with no money left for snacks ergo home made lunches came to the rescue…however lame the situation seemed.
These 5 girls had their own idiosyncrasies; they still do but they had FUN! They didn’t have stars in their eyes but didn’t really know what the world had in store for them either. They sat and laughed at the teachers’ often utterly ludicrous utterances and marveled at the sophistication and expanse of knowledge the others possessed. They wrote their hearts out, thought about new things; had their horizons and visions broadened by good books recommended by even better teachers and still managed to sleep through at least half of their graduation.
Endless sandwiches were eaten along with innumerable cups of tepid coffee which kept the noggin running, however sporadically. They bitched, they gossiped, they cried, they guffawed with laughter and they made memories. In time they shared these memories with their significant others and introduced their friends to the new people they’d share their lives with thereon.
Twenty years on, on the right side of the dreaded (?) 40s, it’s nice to look back and know there was a time and a place and people who made you carefree, kept you young, foolish (in the best way possible) and buoyant.
The offspring was an ADORABLE baby. He was plump in the right places without being a mini-sumo and he was always gurgling and drooling away to glory.
Didn’t cry much and definitely did *not* sleep much either but that’s a complaint that’ll never get old so we’ll keep it for another day, another time.
The mini-muffin had a myriad of expressions from a very young age (as do all kids) and I used to be amazed at each one. Now with the passing of time, my immunity’s grown stronger and I seldom melt at his antics.
But I still become a puddle seeing the baby pictures…a puddle that Red avoids like the plague lest I ask him to come join me while I go back in time,month by month and see a scrawny little infant grow into what I consider to be the cutest baby ever!
But mothers are allowed their delusions. Too bad we lose them so quickly once the weaning and the potty training bits start!
8 years ago, someone stepped on the stage for the 1st time. They wore a gummy bear costume for the 1st time too, along with shoes that had laces….something that sadly hasn’t been mastered till date. They had whiskers painted on their tiny, chubby, kissable face and didn’t complain a bit for the long wait before everyone was seated and they got to do their thaang for the parents present in the auditorium.
This gummy bear has come a long way now. No longer chubby, but still cute (when he sleeps though), saying extremely interesting things and mangling up song lyrics with hilarious results.
The home is a louder, funner and definitely more laughter-filled place because someone learnt to shake their booty 6 years ago. Here’s a look through my trip down memory lane…