Thursday, November 29, 2007

Township Tales - Fads

Kids - impressionable, to say the least.

Remember the series on Jesse Owens and Nadia Comaneci, aired on TV? After the Jesse Owens series, out came our shorts and running shoes, and we ran and "trained" morning till evening. We played long jump, high jump, sprinted, marathoned, and what have you.

But the Nadia Comaneci series drove us crazier. Overnight, we turned into gymnasts. We were pretty convinced that by the year 2000, one of us would be India's Olympic gold medallist. We cartwheeled day in and day out. There were bars in the car shed, on which we hung and swung, and tried to perform great feats. We ended up with calloused palms, and nothing else to show for all our efforts. This fad died out as suddenly as it had begun.

Then there was this period when Tennis was a craze, but we had only a Badminton court. So we named ourselves after Tennis players and played Badminton. I was Jennifer Capriati, for some unknown reason. My sister had to be Steffi Graf. She was Steffi's greatest fan on earth at that time. She even had a lifesize poster of hers hanging in the room. This fad also passed quite quickly.

Then one of us got a cycle. Overnight, all of us had acquired cycles. We learnt cycling, fell, bruised ourselves, and then once we had the hang of it, we cycled all around the lawn, on the main road, other roads, hit each other, gave each other "Dubs" (pillion rides).

I had a problem - I couldn't get down gracefully from a cycle. I would brake, and then jump. In hindsight, I must have looked like a clown. But back then, I didn't understand why the boys would wait and watch me until I got down and then burst into laughter. Many days I went home in tears. I have no idea when I learnt to get down gracefully, but I did, pretty soon.

Oh, a word about my Avon cycle. My dad and I went to buy it in a street off Commercial Street, and ate at Woody's while it was being set up for me. I chose a green cycle. 700 rupees. Not your ordinary olive or bottle green cycle. It was a light green, which faded into white. It was very unique, and to think of it, funny. No wonder my father asked me half a dozen times - "Are you sure?" But in my eyes it was beautiful. Unique. Rare. It couldn't be missed. I didn't have to, like others, look for my cycle in the cycle stand. It just stood out. Even after I started taking it to school, I had no problems like the others - "I have parked it near the third pillar, blah blah". I would walk straight to it. Perhaps the others used my cycle to mark theirs - "I have parked it near the green cycle" - who knows!

And then it was skating season. Somebody got roller skates. And then all of us got roller skates. I bought mine at Olympic Sports shop next to Mac Fast Food on Church Street, off Brigade Road. 140 rupees. Mine had rubber wheels. Ahem ahem. Which didn't harm the surface skated on.

We skated mostly in the community center. I don't remember the learning process at all, but I seem to have picked it up pretty soon. We did nothing but skate all evening.

But I had gone crazy. Skating had taken over my life. I wore it all day long, and I mean all day long. I would have even gone to school skating if it had been allowed (I anyway used to get dreams that I was skating in the school corridors after school hours). My addiction was so bad that I never walked at home for a long time. I only skated. I wore skates while doing homework, while eating, drinking.

I even wore skates to the Indian-style toilet once. Really. Just to prove a point to myself. My mom told me repeatedly - don't lock the door, Shruthi. Careful, Careful. She stood outside, wringing her hands, waiting for the crash and the cry for help. It never came. I came outside, triumphant. I even washed the skates, because they had been in the toilet.

Another time, there were guests, and since I loved to serve tea in a tray, my mom made the tea and asked me to bring it out and serve. She had forgotten that I was wearing skates. I skated into the kitchen, picked up the large tray, with about ten cups of steaming tea, and skated into the living room, pushing the curtains aside with my elbows. The gathering fell silent. They held their breaths as I served them tea - one by one, one by one... only after the last cup was safely in the hands of the last guest, did everybody breathe.

Even now, I rate skating as one of the greatest joys of life.

Next: The Lawn

Monday, November 26, 2007

Township Tales - Games we played.

We were a lot of us in the colony, and there was hardly a boring moment. We played a huge variety of games, adding and subtracting rules, making variations - never ever tiring of it.

Running and Catching - Of course, the old favourite. And we played it with many variations.
Sudden Touch - where, the moment you are caught, you lash out and touch the person again, and she is out again, and then she touches you immediately, and you are out, and this could go on unless one of you dodges your way to safety.
Short chain, where you are safe if you hold on to someone else when the person who is "Out" comes to catch you. Long Chain - When the "Out" person catches you, you join hands with her, and together catch the others. Then you catch the third person, and the three of you go as a chain to catch the others.
Lock and Key - When somebody comes to catch you, you say "Lock", and you are Locked, she cannot catch you. But you remain "Locked" until someone else comes and touches you and says, "Key".
Tree Tree - We had lots of trees in the Lawn, and in this game, all of us gather at one tree, and the "Out" person names a tree, to which you have to run without getting caught. You are safe as long as you are in contact with any tree on the way, or in contact with a person who is in contact with a tree. We even had names for the trees - Fatty, Thinny, and so on. By the time I left the township, Thinny was very fat indeed!
We played variations of Tree Tree too - Pole Pole, Bush Bush, and when our dads bought cars - Car Car.

Then there was my pet hate - Hide and Seek. The problem with this game was that if you were "Out", you go around the colony looking for hidden people, and you have to find every single one of them. But before you found a person, if he jumped out at you and hit you on the back and says "Dubba!" you have to go back to be out. When I was Out, I was always Dubbafied. Along with that insult of being Dubbafied, was the physical hurt - my back stinging with the resounding slap of Dubba. So whenever I was out, I used to wait until everybody hid, then run back home and curl up with a book. And then my friends would come looking for me. Ha! Some kind of indescribable joy that was! I then decided that it would be kinder to just not join in the game!

There were other girlie games, that involved a lot of clapping and hitting shoulders and thighs and chanting stuff. I think I enjoyed them. There were other Statue games, where you shouldn't move or you are Out. These were for hot afternoons.

There were other games - variations of Dog and the Bone, and something called Crocodile Crocodile which involved colours.... we also played Kuntebille (hopscotch) quite a bit - with a small piece of asbestos sheet that we called "baccha".

Badminton was another favourite. We would emerge with our rackets, and since there were so many of us, but only one shuttlecock, we didn't play matches, as they would take long. We played a kind of Round Robin game, where you have to stop playing if the Shuttlecock hits your racquet and falls in your own court, and another girl takes your place, and so on.

But invariably, the shuttlecock would get stuck in the jacaranda tree. Then we would waste half the time trying to retrieve the shuttlecock. We would throw one chappal into the tree. The shuttlecock would come down, and the chappal would get stuck. So we would throw the second chappal, and - you guessed it - the second chappal would get stuck and the first would come down. After a lot of effort, we got all our belongings down, along with a shower of pretty mauve jacaranda flowers, and then the game would continue.

We played a unique game of football - boys vs girls. Our Lawn had a waist-length hedge. The gap in the hedge on opposite sides of the lawn were the goals. The moment football was announced, my friend Su would run home and come back in an old Jari Langa(traditional silk long skirt, with a zari border). She would be the goalkeeper, and would stand at the goal, and spread her legs wide, so that the skirt was stretched taut, and covered the entire goal. Any prospective goal was foiled by the ball bouncing back promptly from her skirt. The girls always won. The boys protested. "Not fair. Su is wearing a langa." We would chorus, "If you want, you also wear and come, who asked you not to?" And then we would roar with laughter. The boys would fall silent. After a while,they stopped playing football with us, what a pity.

We played cricket sometimes. My knowledge of cricket was even worse then, than it is now. Despite being in the batting team, I would field, and I once accused the umpire of not taking a catch. Well. I was that bad. But I could hit a mean sixer. And that was perhaps the sole reason they took me into their teams. And no, I haven't broken any windows.

Next: Fads

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Akashvani Sangeet Sammelan 2007

I am overwhelmed by the mails requesting me to put up the Akashvani Sangeet Sammelan schedule for this year, like I did last year. I am still looking for it. If I find it, I will put it up here. Please watch this space.

Btw, it started yesterday. Tune in to your local station every weeknight at 10 pm, and at 9 30 pm on weekends.

Enjoy.

Update on 29th Nov 2007 - I got the schedule, and here it is. Thanks to Dr. H.R.Krishnamurthy, (Dy. Director General, Prasar Bharati (South Zone), All India Radio, Bangalore), who promptly sent the schedule to my parents.

Date

Time

Artist

Details

29th Nov 2007

10 pm

Jayaprada Ramamurthy

Flute

30th Nov

10 pm

Prof Ritwik Sanyal

Dhrupad Dhamar

1st Dec – Sat

9 30 pm

Charumati Ramachandran

Vocal


10 30 pm

Haridwaramangalam A.K.Palanivel

Thavil

2nd Dec – Sun

10 am

Kailash Sharma

Flute


11 am

Debashish Dey

Vocal


9 30 pm

Vid Poornima Chaudhuri

Thumri-Dadra


10 30 pm

Faiyaz Khan

Tabla Solo

4th Dec – Tue

10 pm

Pt. Giriraj

Sitar

5th Dec – Wed

10 pm

Seetakadu T.G.Murugavel

Nagaswaram

6th Dec – Thu

10 pm

Shubha Mudgal

Vocal

7th Dec – Fri

10 pm

A.Ananthapadmanabhan

Veena

8th Dec – Sat

9 30 pm

Pt.Vishwamohan Bhatt

Guitar

9th Dec – Sun

10 am

Pankaj Kumar Banerji

Flute


11 am

Dr. Kumar Das

Vocal


9 30 pm

D.Sheshachari and D.Raghavachari (Hyderabad Brothers)

Vocal Duet

10th Dec – Mon

10 pm

Keka Mukherjee

Sitar

11th Dec – Tue

10 pm

Dr. K.Vageesh

Vocal

12th Dec – Wed

10 pm

Santosh Kumar Mishra

Sarangi

13th Dec – Thu

10 pm

Suguna Purushottam

Vocal

14th Dec – Fri

10 pm

S.K.Dasgupta

Sarod

15th Dec – Sat

9 30 pm

Palai C.K.Ramachandran

Vocal


10 30 pm

Srimushanam V. Rajarao

Mridangam Solo

16th Dec – Sun

10 am

Sriram Umdekar

Sitar


11 am

Meeta Pandit

Vocal


9 30 pm

Premkumar Mallik

Dhrupad Dhamar


10 30 pm

Pt. Madanmohan Upadhyay

Tabla Solo

17th Dec – Mon

10 pm

Dr C.A.Sridhar

Flute

18th Dec – Tue

10 pm

Manojit Mallik

Vocal

19th Dec – Wed

10 pm

Prof R.Vishweshwaran

Veena

20th Dec – Thu

10 pm

Padma Talwalkar

Vocal

21st Dec – Fri

10 pm

Satish Prakash Quamar

Shehnai

22nd Dec – Sat

9 30 pm

Vid. Dr.N.Rajam

Violin

23rd Dec – Sun

9 30 pm

M.S.Sheela

Vocal

24th Dec – Mon

10 pm

Pushparaj Koshti

Sitar

25th Dec – Tue

10 pm

Uma and Geeta

Vocal Duet

26th Dec – Wed

10 pm

Satish Vyas

Santoor

27th Dec – Thu

10 pm

Chengalpattu V.Muthukrishnan

Nagaswaram

28th Dec – Fri

10 pm

P.V. Ramaprasad

Vocal

29th Dec – Sat

9 30 pm

Pt. D.K. Datar

Violin

30th Dec – Sun

9 30 pm

Mohanlal Mishra

Vocal


10 30 pm

Anil Chowdhury

Pakhawaj Solo

1st Jan 2008 – Tue

10 pm

Naresh Malhotra

Vocal

2nd Jan 2008 – Wed

10 pm

Shyamlal Nath

Sarod


Shri S.K.Dasgupta, Sarod (on 14th Dec) is a close family friend. My father learnt from him (Hawaiian Guitar) many many years ago. They were colleagues and remain good friends to this day.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Six months old

My sweet Puttachi,

It is impossible to believe that you are already six months old. I remember my first look at you six months ago....though you were inside me for so long, you were a stranger to me! Now, I know every whimper, every cry, every grimace, every look of yours - I can read you like a book!

Six months - half a year - You are no longer a little baby - you are my big baby now. How time has flown!

If I am asked to describe you in one word now, it would be Playful.

I love the way your eyes dance with mischief. You already steal hearts with your winning smile.

You are happiest when you are standing, holding on to somebody or something. Whenever you get any kind of support, you hurry to pull yourself up. And then once you are standing, you look around with delight, and make excited noises. You even try to take little steps with your tiny, pretty feet, holding on to somebody. No matter how sleepy, tired, hungry, bored, or weepy you are, the moment you stand, everything disappears and your face splits into a smile!

You have been sitting unsupported for about a month, and you look so much at home, as if you have been doing it every day of your life. You protest loudly if made to lie on your back for any reason at all.

When you are lying down, even if anybody says "Baa, baa" (come, come) or "Edda, edda" (Childspeak for Get up, get up) from the next room, you get hyperexcited and start banging your strong limbs all over, and lift your stomach up again and again in anticipation. It is really amusing to watch you.

Your eyes light up the moment your Papa walks into the room. It is such a pleasure to see you then (no, I am not talking about how jealous I get, though!). And when he dangles the baby carrier before you? You almost jump off the bed in your delight!

When you are playing, but are hungry, or sleepy, and if you spot me then, your whole attitude changes, you start whimpering, and look at me with a pleading look - it makes me giggle helplessly. Then your obvious pleasure when I pick you up - how lovely that is! And of course, the special smile reserved only for me - makes mommyhood even more special than it already is!

Puttachi, I know you hate to be put on your back, but really, if I could change your nappy with you standing or sitting, I would have done so. But I just cannot. So please, please, cooperate with me! If you don't wiggle so much, I can finish the job in half the time, and you can go back to your games!

Similarly, sweetheart, don't resist going to sleep. Can you play with your eyes half closed? The sooner you sleep, the sooner you can wake up and play! So please go to sleep quickly. And err... while you are at it, do take longer naps! 15 minute naps are for adults, not babies!

You are showing signs of wanting to crawl forward to get at - of all the things - a Kitkat wrapper! You foodie, you! Do you know how you lick your lips whenever you see one of us eating something, or even when you see something you know is edible? :D Of course, it is another matter that edible or not, everything finds its way into your mouth.

Puttachi, our lives have changed completely ever since you made an appearance. Life has always been beautiful, but you have more than doubled the reasons for me to smile ever since you arrived.

I assure you that Papa and I will do everything in our power to ensure that your face doesn't lose that smile. Ever.

We love you.

Yours
Amma.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Township Tales - Getting into Trouble

I was quite the quintessential Miss Goody-two-shoes. But what is childhood if not for the occasional rebellion? I did get into trouble sometimes.

We were not allowed to go out of the colony gates unsupervised. There was a bar at one end of the road, and a lonely Water Supply Board area on the other. So it was a strict no-no. But once, someone told us that there was construction going on somewhere on our road, and there was a huge mound of sand with CLAY! So shall we go? I went. Without permission. My heart thudded, but a sand mound was too tempting. As I sat there, playing, my luck ran out - my dad , coming back from office, spotted me. My poor dad is one of the sweetest dads ever - he has hardly ever raised his voice with us. My mom too, for that matter. But yet, I was shocked and scared beyond belief. My father didn't even react. He gave me a friendly smile and a wave and proceeded towards the township. But I cried all the way back. I went home, and my dad and mom were talking. My dad had perhaps not even thought that the event was important enough to tell my mom, they were probably talking about something else - but to my guilty mind, they were discussing what to do with me. I went right in, confessed and apologized and cried - my parents just said - Don't do it again. And I am sure, they laughed up their sleeves at me later!

There were a couple of public toilets in the colony which were used by the colony workers. These stank royally. We hardly went near them. But once, my mom saw one of my friends use that toilet. She told me, "Look, that girl used that toilet - make sure you don't." So, obviously, I just HAD to. It made no sense actually. While playing outside, if I needed to use the toilet, the toilet in my home was closer than that stinking public toilet. But since it had been forbidden, I HAD to go. And I went. My mom's friend spotted me. And told my mom. When I went back home, my mom was wild with rage. "Kaal muridu kaige kodthini!" She said. (I'll break your legs and put them in your hands!) I believed her. And howled all evening. [That was the worst scolding I have got in my life from her. Really. I am a spoilt brat.]

Then there was this time when a friend told me that tamarind leaves taste as good as the fruit themselves, and so I plucked a handful of leaves (I don't recall how I could reach the leaves, though) and ate them, and puked all over myself. This time, my mom was more concerned (about my health or my stupidity, I don't know) than angry, so I was let go with just a warning.

One more. We weren't allowed to go up to the terrace of any building. The doors to the terraces of all the blocks were always locked, except that of one block, which had a separate spiral staircase from outside. Though climbing this staircase was explicitly forbidden, I had gone up once. And had been so overcome with guilt that I had come down almost immediately! I was that goody-goody. Yawn.

Oh, and here's another incident - strictly not one where I broke rules... but it is kind of unforgettable. One boundary of the colony consisted of a low parapet, on which were iron railings. Jasmine creepers hugged these railings. Once, I climbed the parapet to pick jasmine flowers, and then I jumped down. My skirt got caught on the railings, and for one moment, I dangled by my skirt. The skirt then tore, and I landed on the bed of the Jasmine plant with an undignified thump. Right on the spot where my friend Pi had buried her dead goldfish. I escaped unhurt, but the skirt was one which I loved, and it had torn so much that even my mom's magic fingers couldn't repair it satisfactorily.

Next: Games.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Township Tales

For nearly twenty years of my life, I lived in a township in a quiet road in beautiful Malleshwaram.

Today, if I am a friendly, confident person, it is entirely due to growing up in that township. I spent my entire childhood there, and naturally, I have some wonderful, unforgettable memories. A couple of days ago, I thought, "Oh, I must write them all down - I might forget" - and naturally, my blog popped into my head. So, be prepared, I am going to subject you to some nostalgia in, I hope, a series of posts on life in the township.

I was a very shy child. When we moved into the township, I was about four years old. There were already a number of children of my age, and they would play outside every day. No matter how much my mom pushed and prodded me, I wouldn't go out to play with them. So, my mom took down from the shelves her treasure of excellent, educative board games that she had brought back with her from Germany, and she started calling those kids home on quiet afternoons to play the games with me.

I was now comfortable as I was on home ground, and slowly, as the kids became my friends, I ventured out to play with them, and soon, my mom reached a stage where she must have wondered - "why on earth did I encourage her to go out and play?" - coz I didn't want to come back home.

I grew up with those kids, and am in touch with many of them even now. There is one, among them, who has been a "best friend" right from then, until now. We will be celebrating 25 years of friendship next year. Another of them is C, a wonderful person - I know you must be reading ... I am sure you will enjoy this - you were the one who first put this thought into my head :)

Our township was a public sector colony - all our dads worked in the same place. There were 68 houses in all. There was a Community Centre, where we could play indoor games and read India Today, Filmfare and Wisdom. There was a big lawn, which was definitely a lawn in the beginning. But as it saw more and more of our games, not a single blade of grass could be seen in that poor lawn. The newcomers to the colony called it "Ground" - more appropriate. But for us, it remained the "Lawn" until the very end. This of course, was the centrestage for all our games.

There were a lot of trees in the township. There were some in the Lawn, and lots of tamarind trees behind one of the blocks. Naturally, the story was that ghosts lived there, and we would not go there after six pm even for a million bucks.

Our regular schedule during school days was - come back from school, gobble up something, do part of the homework in a flash, and out to play - and not going back until our moms had called us a hundred times, and after many, many "Amma, five minutes". Then, rest of the homework, dinner, and sleep. There was TV, in its ancient avataar, with only good old DD, but it didn't stand any chance - playing outside was far more attractive.

During holidays, we would get up, bathe, finish our breakfast, and run out to play. Then, back for lunch, sit uncomfortably still through the afternoon.. [Our moms - Don't play outside in the hot sun. We - Ok, can we play in the cold sun? Hyuk hyuk]. The moment it turned 5 pm, off we went again, and during holdays, we were allowed to go back outside after dinner (no running, though). Sometimes.

Next: Getting into trouble.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Back..

... to the old look. Much as I liked the new look, it was just not "me".

Have you ever seen and loved a dress in a shop, bought it, and then come back home and worn it, and felt totally uncomfortable? This was exactly how I felt with the new template.

So I am back. This is boring, but this is more "me".

Am tied up with lots of things - apologies for not replying to your comments - but I am reading each one of them, do keep them coming!

Posting might be light for a few days... don't go away! :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

The flip side!

I see that many of you are getting influenced by my baby posts, and you want to have babies too. Ok. But a warning. Not everything is roses in baby-world. It is just that I choose to write only about the positives. BUT. Since I realize that you innocent beings are getting influenced by this hunky-dory picture, I thought it was time to present the right picture before you. So here goes.

How is it, to have a baby? What does it entail? Here is a picture - of the first six months at least.
  • Being available 24/7. No breaks. No slacking.
  • Baby becomes primary, the centre of the universe. Everything and everybody revolves around it.
  • Sleep? What's that?
  • Having a bath in 5 minutes, with one ear on the door for the sound of the wail.
  • Excellent control on bladder and bowels.
  • There is no time that you don't think of baby. Even if you are away. If I leave the baby and go away for a while - to the parlour, to the shop around the corner, to the doc, to the neighbour's house or even on a small walk, I call every five minutes. "What is she doing?"
  • When husband calls from office and asks, "What's my sweetheart up to?", he doesn't mean you.
  • All that you seem to talk about with husband is about the baby. So, you decide, let's set aside an hour where we'll talk about something else. The hour starts now. And baby wails from the next room. Sigh.
  • TV? Theatre? Movies? Concerts? What's that?
  • Days seem to be a continuous haze of feeds and nappy changes.
  • Endless hours of walking the baby to put her to sleep.
  • Innumerable attempts at transfering baby from arms to crib without waking her up.
  • And then kiss her and wake her up. Sigh.
  • Excruciating back-aches from carrying the baby around.
  • Before the baby, when you had to go out, all you had to do was - pull on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, run a comb through your hair, and you are set. Now. Try to pull on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Find that they don't fit any more. Don trousers and a loose kurti instead. Dress the baby. Diaper. Frock. Light jacket. Booties. Check baby for signs of hunger. If hungry, feed. If not, proceed to packing the baby's bag. Diapers, wipes, cotton, water, extra set of clothes, mat, napkins to wipe drool, plastic bags to put soiled diaper in. Extra diapers. Extra pieces of cloth (just in case). Sweater (what if it becomes cold?). Wrap. Extra wrap. Check, recheck, re-re-check. All set, get ready to go. Open the door. Baby soils diaper/shows signs of hunger. Back to changing/feeding. Repeat process until successful. Unless it is too late to go.
  • Make an attempt to look good, then go out with your baby - everybody looks only at baby. Nobody even glances at you. You could have as well gone in pyjamas.
  • Visit someone's house with baby. You ring the bell, husband is trailing, carrying baby. Door is opened, and the host says, "Hi.. what.. where is the baby?" Looks beyond me, sees the bundle in husband's arms, then says, "Oh ok, come on in, then".
  • Grin and bear all the advice and comments on how you look after baby. Nothing you do can be right. Case in point - pick up a crying baby, and you are spoiling it. Don't pick up a crying baby, and you are heartless. It is a lose-lose situation.
  • Make major changes in career, family life, relationships, friendships.

I can't remember the other points I had made in my head - coz I am sleepy and tired after a long day - and this is the only time I get online... there you go.. one more point!

So, here you have it. This is what it means to have a baby. Lots of work. No rest. Ok? Now, all of you who have been influenced by my rosy baby posts - you can stop reading now.

For the others - All these hardships are real, yes, and yet, at the end of it, you look at the innocent, trusting, delightful creature in front of you, and all that you can say is, "It's all worth it."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Look! New clothes!

Ta-daaa! The amazing GrafxGurl designed a new template for my blog. I love it.

Grafx, thanks a ton!

Friday, November 09, 2007

JustFemme



JustFemme, a women's e-magazine, perhaps the only one of its kind, has been launched today. Do check it out! You are welcome to contribute too!

[And while you are there, look for my write-up too :)]

Feedback about the magazine is welcome. Mail to: justfemme DOT in AT gmail DOT com
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