Mamma…..

My maternal grandmother, “Mamma” as we fondly addressed her, was one fiery, strong woman. She was an independent woman, and though feminism wasn’t much talked about in those days, I now know she was one. She held her head high in the toughest situations life put her into. I remember how she took charge of Grandpa’s garage when he met with an accident that left him immobilized for a long time. I never really looked out for any role models beyond my home, because I always had two feisty women – Mamma, and the daughter she brought up, my mother  – to look up to. My sister and me, we were always treated at par with boys…and both of them made sure we learnt everything that was in our reach!
Mamma had been an integral part of my childhood…and was the coolest granny one could ever have!

It’s 31st May today. My granny was born on this day. It’s her 75th Birth Anniversary and if she were here with us, we’d indeed make this day memorable. I wanted to make this day special even otherwise, which is why I wrote this letter…

 

 

Mamma…

It’s been three years since you left us. We carried on with our lives (exactly the way you would have wanted us to), but let me confess – Your loss has created this void in our lives and still, even after three years, it’s hard to believe that you’re not here, with us. And in every little thing that I do, all I miss you a lot and wish you were here with me….

I just wanted you to know that…..

I wish you were here to see how I carefully pick out vegetables – following the exact tips that you gave me:
Tomatoes – Firm, red and not spotted, Potatoes – Never pick the ones that are slightly greenish, Onions – press the head and don’t pick it if it’s soft….and so many others…I will never forget.

I miss those “Information exchange” evening walks the both of us had. You’d tell me the medicinal usage of every plant and tree that we passed by. Till today, I remember that the tree around the corner on the opposite road is used to treat kidney stones and the one five buildings away cures arthritis…In return, the naive me, would keep chattering about all the stuff that would happen in school or college – telling you about all my friends who had boyfriends or girlfriends in class. Each time you’d listen patiently (even when it was a repeat telecast) and then in the end, mischievously grin and say ,” When you have a boyfriend, tell me first, okay?”
….Of course, you would be the first person to know….

I wish you were here to see me put up the Christmas Star (and the lightings also) confidently, all by myself. And also to watch the fun when the other boys in the society fumbled with the wires and bulbs! If only, like me, you would be the one who taught them how to do it… When I do it effortlessly, I realise how well you had taught me to do it.

I wish you were here to see the perfectly round, soft chapatis that I roll up now. Unlike the khaakras and maps of countries that I’d make when you were around, I’ve finally mastered the art of making them – exactly like you taught me to do – Yes mamma, I roll the folded triangles into perfect circles…
If only you’d be here to relish them…

I miss that chilled passenger in the back seat of the car when I was learning to drive. Yeah no matter how much I messed up with the gears and forgot to press down the clutch while changing gears, it was always pacifying to watch you smiling from the backseat. That proud look you’d give every passer-by that said – “Look, my third generation is driving!!”
And when I got that panic attack of not wanting to take up driving again, those words of yours still ring in my ears… ”I learnt to drive in those days, back in the 1960’s. Your mom did too. It runs in your blood, girl – now get back in there and start driving!” ( And man, did I dare not do it!!)

I miss you whenever I put on my socks the wrong way ( yeah I still do it sometimes). I remember how when in 4th standard, we rejoiced when I finally learnt to put on socks the right way! Until then, you would always be the one to put them on for me…

I miss that lip-smacking pudding you’d prepare –and even though mom follows the exact same recipe, it never tastes the same….

I wish I’d learnt to climb trees when you were coaxing me to. I never paid heed after a few failed attempts and now when the mangoes at the top of tree go beyond the reach of my stick, I always regret not listening to you…

I miss you when the White Lilies bloom…your favourite colour and favourite flower…I still can recollect how they didn’t bloom for three years despite the tending you gave them and I also remember the mini-party we had when four stalks budded and bloomed at a time! And yes, don’t worry, Mamma, your garden is being taken care of!

I miss those Work-days we had…when I was your assistant! “Go get the spanner! Bring the box of screws! Find a bolt matching this screw….Hammer this nail into the wall…” If today, I’m well versed with the names and uses of every tool, it’s only because of you…

I miss that lullaby you’d sing to me, whenever I was upset and put my head onto your lap…You knew I’d grown big enough for you to sing me that lullaby…But you also knew it was that very lullaby that would calm me down put me to sleep..

I miss how you’d keep all sorts of names for the hard-board boxes, wrappers, coloured papers that I’d save back for my art work…and how you’d  stop anyone who wanted to throw away my box of “crap” saying, “It’ll break her heart. Keep it back”

I wish you were here today….to see that I have my own blog. You were always a fan of any little thing I wrote – be it that essay on ‘My Summer Vacation’ or that childish poem on ‘Baarish’. 354 people follow my blog, Mamma…I wish I could see your proud face…

I miss you a lot. And I know you were already aware how much I’d miss you in your absence, which is why you had prepared me in so many ways – some which I cannot even imagine…And yes, I’m not troubling Ma too much…and I am following all the instructions you’d given me and will always do…

I also want to say something I never said to you while you were with us…A heartfelt Thank you. Inspite of everything, you made our childhood worth remembering….you were and will always be my Superwoman. ❤

 

Lots and lots of love,
Your grand-daughter.

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JACK!! <3

 

My affair with Jack goes a long way back….. Whenever the news of my arrival would reach my native place, Jack would be all ready…eager to meet someone who loved him truly…. I vividly remember the 3 ½ year old me checking him out 😀 !! The moment I reached my ancestral home in Konkan, I’d run to the backyard…only to see him sitting atop a huge pile of logs of wood…the mere sight of him would make me drooool!!! 😛

So let’s meet my love… Jack…  🙂

 

 

 

Gotcha people!!  ;D

My fondness for Jack is something known to my entire village now! My people there would keep 6-7 jack fruits ready upon the pile of wood a day prior to my arrival for a week-long stay! And when I reached home, I’d shoot towards the backyard just to see if my unsaid demands have been met! 😀

Then the customary ‘Tichki’ ceremony would take place. In the presence of all the elders of my home, I would give 3-4 tichkis to each jackfruit (that’s how you find out if its ripe enough for consumption – it was taught to me by my great- grandma when I was a kid) and confidently declare,

“Hyo pikla…aaz kaapuyat” (This one’s ripe..we’ll cut it today)

With an approving nod, the chosen jack would be taken away from there. And all the people witnessing this actually knew which ones were ripe. They would just see if I would find the right one…and glee… I always did!!

I’d hear them say, “Your kid is smart” (I know, I know!! :P)

I have a record of eating an entire jackfruit in one sitting. And yes – no tummy ache or anything after that 😛 ! (Touchwood!!!). Imagine the look on my family’s faces (both immediate and extended) when they discovered that the entire jackfruit had been devoured by me – a 4 year old kid! A feat na? I should have had the sense to check out with the Guinness World Records people…even Limca Records would do! 😛

Reactions varied from…
“How did she…….an entire one??!!!!”
“Here have some coconut oil…you won’t get any tummy trouble!”
“I hope you didn’t drink water over it!!” ( A rule to be strictly followed, by the way – else you’ll end up shrieking at the Doctor’s with a terrible stomach ache! – Never happened to me though :P..Touchwood…again!!)

And my reply was simple..
“I don’t want anything…nothing happens to me!” 🙂

And I guess that’s the day when Jack fell in love with Jessica. (Why won’t he? I stood up for him against the masses…and cleared false allegations levelled against him……my poor little tough guy…!!)

Even today, whether I visit my native or not, my summers are incomplete without my Jackfruit quota. And whenever I go to the local bazaar to buy one for my family,…( I have to share here..its not free na 😛 ) the ‘tichki’ ritual is still intact as it was years ago!
This is the normal conversation:

Me : Bhaiyya, this is Kaapa…I want Rasaal..see its over there
Bhaiyya : How do you know? Are you from Konkan?
Me: ( With a broad grin lighting up my face) Yes…I am!
Now a little enlightenment here.
Quite a lot of people don’t know that Jack is broadly classified into two – Rasaal and Kaapa.

Rasaal – It’s smaller in size and each “gar” (the fleshy part inside) is very sweet and jiggly. It has to be consumed the day it is cut open. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it! Even among Jack lovers, Rasaal fans specifically are typically hard to find.

Kaapa – The one’s which are not small 😛 The bigger and comparatively harder gars. They can be consumed over a period of 2-3 days. Preferred among jackfruit lovers. I won’t say I don’t like it – but I’d prefer rasaal over kaapa any day.

 

The sad part of our romance is that I get to see him only during these summer months..It’s tough..but I put up a strong front during the rest of the year…..I eat jackfruit chips…or something else that contains jackfruit….

A lot of people have so many complaints against Jack…
“Urghhh…he’s so smelly…can’t bear his smell!!”
“How can you even stand his sight…he looks weird!”
“I hate him…he made my tummy ache like hell….”

Well to all those people, nothing comes in between my love for Jack…After all, true love is accepting each other with flaws and all…

I’d still like to make my point here:
Jack has no flaws…it’s the people who are crazy…..Jack is the BESSTTTTT!!! 😀 😛

 

My tryst with Public Transport!

I desperately wanted to get into BMCC (my senior college) right away after my 10th. With my 10th score, I would have easily made it into the college in the first merit list itself. But as per my dear  family, I was still not prepared to sustain the atmosphere of a “City College”.
So from their side it was :
“We’re not sending you ‘so far’ ‘so soon’. You can go there after 12th
Like I was going to evolve in those two years 😛

To be honest, I always felt that it was a cunning saazish – to ensure that I studied hard enough in my 12th boards to make it to the high cut-off of my desired college…which I did anyway…so that’s okay. Win-win situation for both. 🙂

Now. My college is right in the heart of Pune city, which is quite far from my home. So naturally, this question came up:

“Ma, how will I travel? It’s far na…”
“By bus, beta” (She probably knew it would come as a minor blow to me, hence the usage of “beta”)
“But Ma..I don’t really know that side of the city well..”
“It’s okay. Initially no one knows a thing. You’ll learn”

I braced myself for 4 hours of travel every day.
And did I learn? Hell, yeah!! Not only ‘that side of the city’, but also what travelling by public transport exactly is!

I’ve tried to bring to paper my kaleidoscopic experiences and lessons learnt as a public transport commuter for three years! Read on to know…. 😀

  • The virtue of Patience :
    Endless hours of waiting at bus stops….has definitely taught the impatient me the virtue of patience. In 3 years, public transport managed to teach me something that my family couldn’t in 17 years of co-existence. XD.

    Keep calm…the bus will arrive at its own sweet time any which ways  🙂

    This is the magical chant. You need to keep repeating this to yourself. It works.

    And do not commit the cardinal sin of learning up a bus time-table. That will only bring in more disappointment and frustration and aid you to lose your cool. 🙂

 

  • Unagi – the state of complete awareness :
    I can safely say that I’ve achieved Unagi. Maybe not completely, but enough for my survival!
    Three things to keep in mind:
    – Don’t fall
    -Keep yourself safe from falling people (apparently people lose their grip and stability in a bus)
    -If someone falls on you….two options are available: Save them from falling or Dodge.

    Pick-pockets around. At all times, keep one eye on your bags, backpacks, handbags, polythene bags, paper bags, all kinds of bags.(Unless you want to get out of the bus feeling lighter)
    And in case lady luck favours you, and you manage to get a seat, doze off, but better beware of the drivers and their thrilling brake applying skills. You sure don’t want to get out of the bus with something broken or swollen. 😛

 

  • Men will be men :
    No matter how you dress up, at all times, there will be those few idiots who will keep gawking at every woman who passes by. -_-  Comments will be passed, nudges…and the same old story…

    Funny incident: This drunk guy got into the bus. Fell on one lady. She started yelling, “He fell on me intentionally” This drama continued until someone realised the guy was drunk and he reeked of alcohol. The conductor took things in his hand and told the guy to get out of the bus. While he agreed after hurling few abuses, the comic part was when he fell on two more women while exiting the bus! The women were fuming, half the passengers were angry and other half, laughing!

    But again, there will also be these chivalrous men. They will be like:
    “You can occupy my seat if you want to”
    Some will oblige. Others will give them the ‘why is he offering his seat to me’ look.

 

  • The conductor keeps the show going :
    “Pudhe chala, pudhe chala” (Keep moving ahead, keep moving ahead)
    “Pudhche pudhe sarkat raha!” (People ahead keep moving ahead)

    Yep. That’s the conductor. Especially in a crowded bus, locating the conductor can be a task. But thanks to this war-cry of his, he’s easily detected.
    But on a serious note, the conductor can literally make the bus dance to his tunes (Ting-ting). 😛

    There was this funny incident, when a guy’s backpack got entangled with the conductor’s money pouch. Both parties didn’t notice. The guy’s stop arrived. He hurriedly made his way through the crowd, dragging the conductor along with him!!
    The conductor, almost out of the bus, half-irked half- smiling, said “Kick me itself out of the bus…that’s all that is remaining now!” Poor fella!
    But the laugh we passengers had!! 😀

 

  • Vacant seats are vacant for a reason :
    In a crowded bus if your eyes fall upon a seat that is vacant, DO NOT get excited to place yourself upon it! It’s vacant for a reason.Reasons may vary from:
    -Technical issues (screws may be loose)
    -It may be wet
    -Gross reasons like someone may have spat or puked on it. Don’t squirm. It happens.

 

  • Arguments add the required tadka :
    You will get to witness a whole range of arguments. Starting from minor bickering to verbal squabbles to full-blown brawls – we have it all on the menu!

    Agendas for the arguments will generally be:-
    -This is ladies seat (Ladies vs. One ignorant man/men)
    -This is senior citizen’s seat (Senior citizen vs. Some adamant youngster or fake Sr. Citizen)
    -Shift to the men’s side and don’t stick to the ladies! (Ladies vs. Men)
    -I don’t have change. (Big shots with no chutta vs. conductors)

 

  • Monsoons…..well…. :
    Wading from flooded bus stops to make your way into a cramped bus that has a leaking roof (which by the way, makes you feel like you’re still outside)….is annoying.The stairs of the bus will be slippery. Even if you get into the bus, you yourself will wonder how you managed to do it…There will be leaking umbrellas all around.
    And yes…that one big fat uncle, who prefers not to take off his dripping raincoat (even if it means soaking the people around).Also, people gleefully step on your foot/feet/footwear, painting it in the plush colours of the monsoon slush. -_-

 

  • Women will be…err….women! :
    Women have this ability  of calling their seats from ten miles away. They’ll fling whatever they have in hand – handkerchiefs, handbags, purses and even phones (the Smart ones) just to reserve their seats…Well..I’ve witnessed this too!

 

  • Last row seats should come with a caution :
    I’m saying this because the very first time I had occupied one of those seats, I had almost got flung outside the bus from the back door. Thanks to the excellent speed breakers and the driver’s toofani driving skills.

 

  • The joy of sighting the direct-home-bus :
    You’ll understand this only if you have had to switch buses to get home. And the mere sight of the bus that will take you home directly calls for a mini-celebration!
    The joy of watching that bus arrive and the motive to get into it no matter how crowded it is….is unexplainable! 😀

 

 

This journey of three years was indeed filled with bitter-sweet experiences and memories. At times ,any of this comes to my mind, it makes me smile. Travelling by bus has left me with so many incidents funny, scary, weird….I have treasure load of stories to narrate! When I look back, I realise that I learnt so many things. I came across situations where I had to make a call… defend myself…raise my voice. All of this has only made me stronger…and of course smarter 🙂

And I do realise what Ma actually meant when she said “You’ll learn” 🙂