Remembering Daddy…

Three years it has been… how time flies!

Every year after that fateful day, when this part of the month comes around, I start feeling jittery. I go about my daily chores, but when I’m by myself, the memories come flooding back – in the three days starting from my grand-dad’s birthday, the mind starts recounting the events – the conversations and sequences start tumbling out of the mind’s closet. I can’t help but think about the could-have-been’s and what-if’s. It almost makes me tremble and I become jumpy, getting irritated at the slightest of provocation.

Yesterday on the way back, I felt restless, unable to sleep in the cab and unable to sit still. I thought I’ll at-least tune into the radio on my phone, which I hardly ever do while I’m travelling. I was hoping to catch some old melodies – dad’s favourites which would bring back good, happy memories. I tuned into Akashavani and the minute I did so, the RJ announced a Veena recital program of a Thyagaraja krithi by R K Raghavan. I was stunned! As the mellifluous notes from the Veena started playing I felt my nerves ease and the heart relax. It felt like a sign from daddy and I felt at peace for the first time in three days.

Dad was a music-lover – he liked music in its many forms, but his absolute favourite was Carnatic Classical music. He himself had taken Veena lessons from the famous Veena maestro R K Suryanarayan, even going for classes after office-hours in his middle-age years! He imbibed the love for music in us – me and my sis and insisted that we take Vocal music lessons. While I had relented and had taken lessons from a very strict music teacher Shri Lakshmana Shastri near-by our home, my sis had put up huge fights and wouldn’t go to him for classes, no matter what! 😀 He and the old Veena instrument at home were also the inspiration for me to later keep in touch with Carnatic music, by taking Veena classes from another lady teacher.

Dad was also a connoisseur of old Hindi film music and was a fan, especially of Rafi and Mukesh hits. I, being a huge Kishore Kumar fan, would have arguments with him that Mukesh was no good! These days whenever I listen to Mukesh’s songs, it instantly reminds me of dad and our arguments. Me and my sis would break into impromptu songs and antakshari-sessions whenever we felt like and dad couldn’t keep quiet, he would butt in with his song choices and we would shoo him away! 🙂

My memories of school and college days from home are filled with mornings waking up to strains of classical music and Sundays filled with Hindi film songs. Almost the entire day, the radio would be on – if not, it would be the various cassettes he would play. Sundays meant – old Classic hits, late heavy lunch, good afternoon siesta and a tall glass of evening tea. How I miss those days! 😦

Yesterday during the cab-ride back home, I also happened to look out and noticed a big rose bush outside a home. I travel almost the same way each day but haven’t ever noticed this house or the bush. Yesterday I did. It was a wild bush, growing in all directions – with many beautiful blooms of cream-yellow roses. It was the very same kind which used to grow in abundance at our home on the plants, which dad used to tend-to for years.

Another sign, may be? It reminded me of the days when I was young and we used to stay at the quarters – we had so many fruit-bearing and flowering plants and trees – dad seemed to have a way with them. They all grew and gave us fruits and flowers in abundance. If I look at my childhood photos, not one can I find where I don’t have a flower in my hair! Even when I had short hair, a rose adorned my pig-tails or sometimes it was the dahlia too!! Random happy memories.

Memories – that’s all is what is left of him now. As time rolls by, the memories start fading – will I remember all in such clear detail many years from now? I hope I do. I hope my son remembers his thatha always – the one who took on the role of a doting grandfather once he was born. I would see him become a child himself and play with him for hours – inventing new games and coming up with the silliest of jokes. I could any day trust him to take care of my son while keeping him engaged, right from when he was some months old – something which I don’t believe my mother can claim to do, even now! I hope my son inherits his thatha’s love for music and plants and books, and chess and carrom too. And his amazing sense of hospitality, which would be so extreme sometimes, that it would exasperate us ladies at home!

I also hope that my dad is at peace and looking over us with happiness, from wherever he is now. Love you dad, always! 🙂

Letting go of favourites…

The past Sunday, after a long long time, I walked the once much-trodden paths. The steps which were traced day after day many years ago – the ways which I knew like the back of my hand… the times and memories tucked into some obscure corner of my mind came gushing back and nostalgia took me on its wings for a ride. A smile played on my lips as I took the once all-too-familiar bus routes and stepped past the puddles on the rain-drenched footpath leading up to my parents’ house.

But the smile died when my mind jumped to the task that lay ahead and which caused me to be there early on a Sunday morning… The bright sunlit study room had to be cleaned and handed over to new occupants – the one in which I had spent many days huddling over my books – late into nights and the wee-hours of the morning, studying feverishly and preparing for the many exams that lay ahead. I was never the one to sit at a place and study quietly – I’d walk around the room a book in hand or sway back and forth while sitting and hugging the shawl or sweater covering my cold shoulders…somehow those gestures eased my nerves and helped me concentrate! Go figure that! 😀

And then I got married and moved away from my parents’ place, but when I had to go back there 4 years later for my maternity break, that was my room again. I threw a tantrum and insisted that my dad get the legs of the old double cot re-done. I didn’t want to take any chances as the legs were weakened after being hauled between many rooms over the years. After that was done, the room became all mine – where I worked from home at the laptop during the later pregnancy months, where I rocked on the easy chair and painstaking but happily knitted the stitches and rows of the many baby sweaters I made for my little one; where I devoured books like there was no tomorrow…

It was the room which welcomed me when I came back from the hospital, a tiny little bundle in tow, the many bright afternoons spent cooing and gurgling with my baby as he flayed and kicked his hands and legs in response, like he would get up and start talking any moment! The room which reverberated with the sounds of his rocking cradle as my granny rocked it tirelessly and alluring baby sounds when my dad invented new games and stories to keep his little grandson entertained…It was the room where I stole quiet moments to browse the net to hungrily cram in blogs-read-time and ravelry-time on the rare afternoons when the baby slept. It was the room where the hubby played with his son making him laugh with his funny faces and put him to sleep in the crook of his arm or on his swaying knees… It always has been the one room where I could trust to let my little tornado play without getting into trouble, pulling out the numerous items and things that we have accumulated over the last 30 years…

It is the room where me and the sis have had our many fights, giggled hysterically over inane jokes, cried buckets-ful, argued over which book belongs to whom and the list just goes on… And now we have to let go of that room, my favourite, the only bright and sunny one in the house… sigh! 😦 Change is inevitable they say, but it hurts… especially when one has to give up on something which has been witness to so many precious moments in life. But thankfully one has the memories to treasure – atleast that’s something nobody can take away from us! :-/

A month and more into 2014

In March last year, I wrote this post. Who would’ve thought so much would change in a year? But it did. June 22 2013 was when I saw my dad alive for the last time. The memories of the day are so painful that when I remember snatches of it I tend to push those thoughts to the back of my mind – is that wrong? It is not a deliberate action, but still… I sometimes fear that this will cause the painful thoughts to fester in the deep recesses of my mind – thoughts of fear, regret, pain, tears, the deep sense of loss, the knowledge that he won’t ever come back – I don’t know what else… I feel the urge to pour it all out, an overwhelming one at times. It’s not as if we haven’t spoken about dad, we do it most of the times when we meet – every action, event, festival, occurence, mundane everyday happenings – and some or the other memory ties it back with him. May be if I cry my heart out one day this oppressive feeling will go away – but then I have a feeling it never will 😦

I didn’t mean this to be a sombre post… moving on, this year has brought a lot of changes in it’s wake as well. The project at my new job (which is incidentally now a year old!) came to a close in December and I was asked to work on another for a different client. This assignment saw me to travel to Mumbai for a week – away from home and the kiddo left in the care of his appa and ajji. I must say that he coped rather well, apart from saying – ‘amma neenu ellidya? amma neenu eegale bandbidu!‘ everytime we spoke over the phone, which wrenched my gut.

The Mumbai trip was a good break, workwise and otherwise – me and my colleague ended up staying over on most nights at another friend’s place, though the company had booked accomodation.We had some good girly fun, not to forget her sporting mother who was almost part of the gang! Back home, a new client meant a new workplace and no more luxury of having company transport. Which meant it was back to the days of traveling by good ol’ BTS! It had been a loong time since I’d regularly traveled by the city buses – I guess the last time being even before I got married! Those were fun times! But a few years and the worsened traffic situation is all it takes to remind you that you aren’t getting any younger and the enthu levels are dipping even as the bones get creakier by the day. Well, hopefully it won’t be a long-term problem, otherwise I need to think of ways to tackle it!

But what the bus-travel brings with it is the smaller joys of life – going past some well-loved lanes, the satisfaction of finding the rare seat on a tiring day, snatches of a favourite song on the FM, catching the antics of a little kid on an adjoining seat with it’s mother, the strange whims and idiosyncrasies of co-passengers, opportunities for general people and behaviour observation and so on… one such instance was when the driver while surfing radio channels chose just the channel which was playing the well-known and much loved notes of a favourite song from yester-years – the ‘Ab mujhe raat din’ number from Sonu Nigam’s album Deewana! A thrill went up my spine and a smile lighted my lips . There again was a moment of sad nostalgia at the recollection that me and the sis had pestered our dad to buy us the audio cassette and he had obliged, like he mostly did… all those memories of spending hours listening to every song so many times came rushing back and the foot and fingers automatically were tapping and there I was humming the lines, like I’d heard it just yesterday, though it had been years since I’d heard it last! That little interlude with music was enough to brighten up what looked like an otherwise gloomy Saturday to be spent at work. The rest of the workday didn’t seem tedious at all – thanks to all the songs from Deewana that I heard online and re-lived the pure joy of listening to some good favourite music!

Well, I guess that’s it for now… I hope to post a little more that what I’ve been doing – because I’ve been feeling the urge to write – mainly to capture and chronicle the cute antics and the growing-up joys of the little kiddo. But I don’t want to make promises, not even to myself!

Daddy…

My dad is no more…

It’s been a little over 2 weeks and we move on…

life goes on… it doesn’t stop, time doesn’t freeze… the rest of us, still alive, have so much to do… jobs to get back to, families to attend to, daily mundane chores to be done, babies to be taken care of – unaware and blissfully ignorant of the loss they’ve had, moments to be shared – happy and sad, tears and laughs, situations that make you return to the land of normalcy…

But in the midst of all this are flashes and memories and thoughts and recollections – of scenes and words and days and events, which flit past the mind, un-announced and un-invited – they leave me mostly sad, but also afraid – for what happened and what might happen… and regrets for what could’ve been better.

Now I know first hand, how it feels to have a personal loss… and I wish, albeit uselessly, that no one I know should feel what I am feeling…

The baby-moon that wasn’t to be

Well, it’s been some time now since we had planned this trip… actually it was planned as early as late last year – it was a voucher from one of the best holiday planners and we were excited to say the least. It had to be last year, but it being a free voucher and preference obviously given to members, we didn’t get a weekend slot then and had to postpone it to early this year.

Then of course we got to know our good news and got busy in making preparations and taking necessary precautions. And before we knew it, the planned holiday dates were nearing. That’s when the rigmarole began. We started by checking with our doc – she straight away said – ‘no road travel absolutely! This is the right time to plan for a holiday but you gotta go wherever you want by train, and not by road. There’ve been people who’ve been there, done that without any mishaps, but there is just that 1% chance which I don’t want to take with my patients! If you still wanna go, go ahead but don’t tell me!’ Well that left us crestfallen 😦

I, being the one not to give up so easily went about consulting, whom I thought were other experts, since I knew that they’d been in such situations before. After speaking to an odd assortment of people and detailing our plans and reassuring that we would drive down and not take the public transport etc. I realized that nobody wanted to take the slightest chance by giving us the go ahead. Everybody had the same thing to say – ‘ yeah, this is the right time; yes it should be no trouble if you’re driving yourself… of course, it’s not too far away… but… but… why do you want to run the risk? After all this is probably a once in a lifetime occasion when you might have to give up on immediate pleasure for long term gains… well… it is finally left to you. It’s your decision and you must make it!’

Arrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhh! I was frustrated to say the least. The hubby conveniently washed his hands off the whole affair and declared – ‘I have no problems, if you wanna go, we’ll go. Else, we’ll not! Period.’ Hmpf! So much for being soul-mates and life partners!

Well, after much deep thought, heartache and deliberation, I decided that we wouldn’t go after all. What mattered to me most were the baby and its well-being. That’s how the baby-moon stood canceled 😦 It has been the norm with our and this particular holiday-maker’s association till now, every time we plan a holiday with them, it gets scrapped for one reason or the other! May be it is jinxed 😦

Well the reason why I got around to doing this post is – the conversation I had with my mom on my recent visit home. As me and my sis listened with wide-eyed and jaw-dropping expressions, my mom recounted the various (mis)adventures that she had been up to when she was supposed to be worrying about her babies-to-come! In her 6th month while she carried me, she had the gall to go climbing all the way up the Palani hill! She says she was on the final year college trip with her friends and couldn’t stay back! She of course had to hear an earful once her prof got to know that she’d attempted this while she was preggers! And as if that wasn’t enough, the very next month she and my dad had gone gallivanting on a scooter all the way to Nandi hills! Phew! I guess they’d made all plans to dump me even before I was born, it was a resilient me who fought back and made my presence felt in this world, methinks! And just so that they are fair to their younger child, they had undertaken a North India trip with me in tow all the way up to J&K, even riding ponies for sight-seeing – all the time my yet to be born 3 month old baby-sis waiting to see the light of day!

But you know, what really got my goat?? These very same adventurous-in-their-youth parents of mine were the first ones to shoot down our holiday plan as downright risky when we had not even begun mentioning about it! Gah! Parents, I tell you, sometimes they act like they’re from a totally different planet! 😐

Of telephones and simple pleasures

I actually began writing this post about a couple of weeks ago – about how we got our landline telephone connection so quickly that I was was maha-thrilled about it – the feeling matched that of the good old days when telephone was still considered a luxury that few could afford. But then, thanks to some muddles among the BSNL staff departments themselves, our phone went dead the very next day and also came back to life equally quickly too – thanks to hubby’s PR skills (as usual!). Well, somewhere along the way my excitement about writing that particular post just petered away.

Now the situation is that we have obtained a landline telephone and the broadband connection from no less than Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited – in less than three weeks. If that is not an achievement, then tell me what is?! It just goes to prove two things – there is still hope for the likes that depend on Government related agencies/ PSUs – all is not lost, and also good PR always pays! 😀

As you can guess, I have suddenly become more active on the social networking sites and feel much less handicapped while at home. Internet is like an extra limb, don’t you think? It is just so comforting to know that it is just a hand’s reach away and one doesn’t have to wait for another time and opportunity to be able to access it. Gosh! Sometimes just the thought of how much it has brought the world’s people closer together, overwhelms me!

Of course, with me logged onto the net many evenings, the hubby isn’t too happy, but I’m now thrilled that I have a thirumantra to counter all his TV-watching-hours which irks me no end! 😀 Sigh! It’s only good for argument sake I know – me in front of the laptop and he in front of the TV, is not the happy us-time I want to visualize!

Getting back to the original intent of this post – I was reminded of the time when we first got the landline connection at home – it was nothing less than a milestone in our lives. The fact that we could call people – friends, relatives, acquaintances and speak to them whenever we felt like – we were so excited. Especially me, I was in high school I think – I could exchange numbers with my friends – we could call up and discuss homework and doubts and syllabus before exams! Wow! Once the instrument was installed and the connection to the neighborhood telephone pole made I was waiting for the moment when the phone would ring and we would be given our number. I can still remember that very first ringing tone of our phone! I was the privileged one as it was the school vacations and I had excitedly called up my dad at office to tell him the good news!

Sigh! Whatever happened to the days when such simple accomplishments brought so many pleasures?!

India Coffee House

Read about this on Arun’s blog yesterday and my heart sank 😦

Only a couple of days ago, I was nagging the hubby to let us grab a coffee at this place – like I’ve done several times, while in its vicinity. No matter how many swanky new coffee shops sprung up in and around MG Road, this small little nondescript hole-of-a-place with its characteristic faded board and paint peeling off, was the one that I gravitated towards as the first choice. But as it most often happens, we ditched the idea considering the nightmare that parking would turn out to be on a crowded weekend evening.

And now this… I am ready to blame the husband for snatching away what was probably my last chance of sipping the insipid brew – savourless it might be for some, but the warmth of the memories and the fuzzy feel-good factor it carries for me is unmatched. Was it our gang hang-out or adda for a group of us special friends? Nope, I never was part of any gang with their addas for that matter. The corner this establishment occupies in my memory is just as nondescript as it is – the image conjured up by the eye is of a school girl on a cold evening, out with her dad on the bajaj-scooter for a treat of sorts – a visit to the book-haven Gangarams for his official book purchases (while she feasted her eyes on bound copies of Jane Austens and the lovely colourful illustrations of PGWs); followed by a snack at the aforementioned. It wasn’t a routine affair either – at most, might’ve been sporadic visits of some 2-3 instances – but that memory – of soft, white perfectly diagonally-cut bread slices and the taste of the yummy salty, scrunch-y cucumber and tomato slices on biting into the sandwich and the aroma of the hot, crispy masala dosa – is still fresh, fresh, fresh in my mind! This, followed by a wholesome cup of my favourite drink – freshly brewed strong filter coffee, was all that was needed to satiate the simple needs of a middle-class school-girl. The waiters who looked ancient with their maharaja-style petas and white uniforms completed the picture of the homely setting.

It is this small memory that pulls me towards the place even this day – funny isn’t it – how some memories are made of the most mundane, seemingly unimportant events and contexts? Well, cutting back to the present, this place is shutting down – read more about it here – the story behind and thereof. Tomorrow it is – their last working day – before the shutters clang down and the page turns on another of the chapters of dear old-Bangalore’s history. Sigh! 😦