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! 🙂

Happy tenth!

A decade – ten years it has been – of togetherness. Should I be saying – ‘you complete me‘? Nah, I would rather say – ‘I am incomplete without you‘! 🙂

It has not been a easy ride (is anybody’s ever?) – there have been ups and downs, triumphs and trials, laughs and lows, tears and toasts… moments when one’s felt euphoric, that life can never be better and others when one has felt down in the dumps, like it was the worst!

Marriage, they say is a life-changing event. I would agree whole-heartedly, especially it still is, in our society and is an important milestone in each of our lives. It’s important that you have someone to share your thoughts with, to laugh-along or to find solace when you’re upset about something – a friend, a companion, a lover, a guide, a protector, a provider, someone who needs your care and attention like a child. I’d say, we experience a plethora of relationships through our spouse. The demands are different and the roles you need to essay keep changing, it’s a dynamic relationship – ever-changing and that’s what makes it interesting. And no matter how many years pass, each day is different.

The initial years are all about moments that set your heart a-flutter – when you’re discovering each other and what makes him/ her tick. You’re fine-tuning your frequencies, being in generous moods to adjust and accept, all in the name of love/ tenderness that you feel for the other person. Whoever said that one has to be in love to get married, was ill-informed. There can be love after marriage too – as has been proved by the several hundreds of arranged marriages over the generations of our parents and grand-parents. You might argue all you want – that these marriages were not on equal terms, that the women didn’t have much choice and the men had the final word always. But you can’t deny that there was love – that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? that love can have so many manifestations!

Slowly as you settle into the humdrum of married life, a few years down the line, life starts losing it’s rosy sheen and you begin to see the flaws and the idiosyncrasies in the partner – what used to amuse you once, might just irritate you or worse still, might be disgusting in some extreme cases. You begin to make further adjustments and a slow sense of familiarity and sometimes resignation – looking at the bigger picture, sets in. Also around the beginning of these years, a child makes an appearance and priorities shift. The bundle of joy becomes the attention-seeker and all efforts go in trying to appease and take care of your child. The child is the apple of your eyes and every single routine begins to revolve around him/ her. The marriage and the sense of seeking comfort in each others’ arms takes a back-seat.

Further years cause more adipose tissues to be built around the relationship as each settles into their own comfort zones and the keen sense of sensitiveness (which is a given during the early years) starts disappearing and you begin to take your partner for granted. Another child or two doesn’t change the equation much and each gets busier with their own lives, there’s hardly any time or opportunity for heart-to-heart talks. And romance? Well, if you are a keen observer, you can surely see it fly out of the window! 😀

I guess, it’s the latter years which again gives opportunities for rekindling the romance?! After running non-stop being a part of the rat-race, when you finally retire and take a breather, that’s when you look at everything around you afresh, with new eyes. The small gestures and sacrifices which would’ve gone unseen and unappreciated over the years get a second look.Sometimes the enormity of the sacrifices which the partner has had to make – which inevitably in most cases in our society turns out to be the woman, begins to dawn upon you. Or maybe not. You just begin to appreciate your spouse a teeny bit more. It’s also the time when the birds have flew the nest, the children are all grown up and busy running the rat-races of their own lives and don’t have much time and don’t need you any longer (till they have kids of their own, that is! 😀 ). You find solace in each other’s company. Further additions to the family in the name of the grandchildren keep you busy and you rediscover the pure unadulterated joy that children can bring to one’s lives. And so it goes on… The lucky ones get to spend these golden times together, the unlucky ones not so.

I guess I’ve generalized a lot in visualising the life-scenes played out above, but most often this, with a few tweaks and side-plots here and there, is the story of our lives 😀

Parenthood and the companionship for the latter years of one’s life – these are reasons enough for marriage, according to me. Parenthood is an inexplicable joy – there are people who are single/ married-with-no-kids who are happy doing their own thing in life. Ha ha, we too were happy go-lucky, travelling around and enjoying the various perks of not having kids, for quite some time. But then, once you are a parent there’s no looking back. That one tiny bundle makes all the difference, you wouldn’t want to trade that feeling for anything in the world. It becomes the focus of all your thoughts and energies and deeds. All you want is the well-being and happiness of your child. Heck, we tried doing a couples-only trip for the tenth anniversary, but couldn’t get the little imp out of our thoughts! 😀 Sights and sounds and actions and happenings reminded us of him all the time and we missed him badly, while he was having a rocking, rollicking time with cousins at his grandma’s! 😛

Having a friend and partner for old age helps one lead a complete, fulfilling life, I believe. We see so many single elders sad and depressed due to lack of company when their world slows down. From the looks of it, the spouse in this case is irreplaceable. It also helps to keep each other busy, active, chirpy and occupied, without causing unnecessary interferences and upsets with the kids’ lives. After all, what can be more satisfying than having your life-long companion by your side as you watch the years pass by, your children grow up, your efforts bear fruit, and you walk together, hand-in-hand into the most gorgeous, brightest sunset of your life?! 🙂

And that, is what I wish for us, on this occasion! Happy tenth PK, and here’s looking forward to spending many many more, with you by my side! 🙂

 

Talk of the Frangipani and the lure of firang-lands

Hellooo, I say ** and wait for the echoes to come back to me** ‘coz obviously there aren’t any readers here any more! 😀
Before I change my mind and think that it’s too much effort to type out a post, let me get on with what I have to say.

Firstly, I am thrilled that the very first flowers on my ‘Frangipani‘ plant have bloomed and there are many more buds ready to burst-forth! 😀 I’ve always wanted to have this plant (also called the “temple tree” as someone mentioned) in my home, mainly for it’s heavenly fragrance and the flowers themselves, which are so beautiful with their velvety shaded petals. And I was particular that I wanted this variety which had the smaller yellow flowers – not the pink ones or the long-petal-ed white ones! The gardener who got the plant for us must’ve prayed, and prayed hard – I’d threatened him of dire consequences if it turned out to be of any other variety! Did I already mention that I am thrilled?!! 😀

Sometimes I go back to my old blog posts and read what I’d written. Sometimes I flinch, but those occasions aren’t many – mostly I am left wondering if I indeed wrote all that at some point in time. I seemed to have so much to say! An opinion on everything, I’d find topics to write about so easily. Books that I read, movies I watched, trips that I went on, the everyday happenings, the events unfolding around the world – sporting and otherwise; I seemed to be so “tuned in”. These days if I think of writing something, I feel “zoned out”; like it is so much of an effort. It’s like I have this a sudden urge to write – something, anything! But most often I’m unable to type out a post at a stretch and later in the day I am back in the seemingly thought-less void!

Nevertheless to get on with the post, amongst other everyday happenings we managed to catch a night show of the movie “Airlift” recently. We liked the movie – although it is not an exact representation, it is a take of the events that unfolded in Kuwait in the early 90s and how a couple of individuals and the Indian government came to the rescue of the 1.7 lakh Indian refugees who were holed up at Kuwait after the Iraqi attack. Akshay Kumar‘s character is based on the lives of two businessmen whose almost heroic efforts were instrumental in getting these people back home during the crisis situation. I especially loved the role played by the seemingly inconsequential Joint Secretary in the External Affairs ministry; all said and done he had a major role to play in getting the Indian govt. to act! At the end of the movie as they flashed the statistics of it being the single biggest airlift operation in the world – with Indian Airlines flying in nearly 490 flights over 50 days to evacuate all those people, I had goosebumps and my heart swelled with pride! The movie brought a lump to my throat, a similar memory I have is from my school days when we’d watched Border – the story of how a few dozen men fought the fierce battle at the border to wrench control from enemies, for the country’s sake; not caring for their lives or their families.

When I look at friends and aquaintances and hear of them flying away to far-off lands in search of better opportunities and a better lifestyle, I wonder. As it happens, most often, once you go and start living elsewhere, especially when it offers a more conducive atmosphere for your work and life, doesn’t it become more and more difficult to get back to the homeland knowing the harsh realities that await you here? When we as adults find it so difficult to adjust, just spare a thought for the young kids who’re bundled off, who’ve never seen anything of the kind to be even prepared for! No doubt the foreign shores have much to offer but does it outweigh the feeling of being at one’s home, amongst family and friends? And what about these external factors on which one doesn’t have control – like the harsh weather extremities or the insurgent revolts or the terrible terror attacks? One has to be ready to sign up for all these too, along with all the niceties, isn’t it? Of course, there’s no guarantee that one’s own country is free from all these – but doesn’t it make sense to have one’s family, friends and support systems firmly around, to face such difficulties?

January also saw me making a quick trip to Kerala to attend a friend and ex-colleague’s wedding, with family and another colleague’s family in tow. The wedding itself held at the famous temple premises in the town of Guruvayur was a quickie and we spent some time exploring the surrounding attractions. The said collegue has already flown away from her nest, to settle in the hinterlands of Amreeka. Sigh! One can’t help but feel for her aging parents – who of course were thrilled to see her getting married! But how about being around when they need you the most in their sunset years?

Guess, it’s a very debatable topic. I, for one, have always believed and will continue to believe that with all it’s flaws and fantasies, India is the place to be, for me. There’s nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing that is really worthwhile enough, to leave and head away from here! India – with her myriad extremes is truly incredible – while there is beauties galore, there are several beasts one has to battle with too. But as I mentioned, at the end of the day, it’s home! 🙂

Of home and hearth…

Hiya, I’m back on one of my quarterly visits to the blog! 😀 I know, I’m not even going to pretend otherwise!
What prompted me to write here today? – it was when I saw the link to my blog under favourites on Smitha’s space! Wow, I didn’t think anybody still followed my irregular random posts, which seem to revolve only around my son and his yearly birthdays!!

Anyway, a lot has happened since the last time I wrote here. We moved into our new home, a couple of months ago. Technically speaking it has been a good 2+ months but like I tell anybody who cares to ask – we’re still “settling in“! I don’t know… I suppose it’s rather difficult to capture the “when” that a house transforms into a home or the “how” either… when I look at our house today I see a lot of small niggly things that stare at me right back in the face – it’s just got to do with me I know, but I feel these small probably-insignificant-in-the-bigger-scheme-of-things are essential to make it into a home. And that process I know will take many more months.We are getting a lot of stuff still done – there’s probably not a single weekend that we’ve been free; small not-very-evident but nevertheless important stuff, which involves time and effort and money… so I suppose we just have to go with the flow and take it slowly. But the nagging thought that rears its head from time to time is – “but what if it takes so long that the house no longer seems new?!” Well, it really shouldn’t matter to anybody but us, isn’t it? It will be our “home” then! I guess, I sound as clear as mud – that’s the state of thoughts in my head too! 😀
Continuing with our efforts of turning it into a homely place, we got in touch with a gardener and got several plants planted around the house. Though we don’t have a huge garden space to boast of, we had left few patches of land at the front and by the walk-way, hoping to have some greenery. I’ve selected a bunch of different saplings – flowering ones mainly and I’m crossing my fingers that they will all get successfully adjusted to the environs and grow into our healthy green-companions!

In other news, the little one is growing up fast as usual and is already starting cursive writing and dictation at school! 😮 There’s not a day without homework and just the thought of his next years with multiple books of homework in different languages and math is giving me the jitters right-away 😦 He is in his ‘taane‘ phase right now, where every sentence or question of his is suffixed with a ‘taane‘ which I guess in English would translate into tagging-on a ‘isn’t it?‘ to every line that comes out of his mouth! He is doing pretty well at school – the first PTA happened and his teacher said that he is a shy but intelligent, smart child – basically well behaved. His love for drawing and colouring continues and here are some peeks into the latest flights of his imagination.

A very like-to-like representation of the Channapatna Giraffe we have at home

A very like-to-like representation of the Channapatna Giraffe we have at home

That's Chota Bheem turned into a girl, watching the aeroplane fly!

That’s Chota Bheem turned into a girl, watching the aeroplane fly!

Drawn looking at a Dora pic in his book - he improvised with a hat as her wasn't easy to draw! :D

Drawn looking at a Dora pic in his book – he improvised with a hat as her hair wasn’t easy to draw! 😀

Drawn by looking at a double-decker red toy bus he has

Drawn by looking at his double-decker red toy-bus

The Chota Bheem characters - Dholu, Bholu, Raju and Indumati

The Chota Bheem characters – Dholu, Bholu, Raju and Indumati standing at a traffic light

We took him to watch the Jurassic World movie in 3D recently, which was his only second movie outing after Big Hero-6 and he spoke non-stop at the theatre too! During the first half it was all about – “when do we get the popcorn?” and in the second half the drone was – “when will the movie end?!!” And all the time he was meddling with the 3D glasses or kicking the front seats or popping up and down in his seat, with the constant chattering as background score. And then, when the movie got really interesting towards the end (the first-half was pretty boring with hardly any action, if you ask me!) he started crying, getting scared with all the giant T-Rex fights!! Phew! I had to cover his eyes with my hands while shush-ing his cries and soothing his nerves; all the while trying to balance my own over-sized glasses and trying not to miss the action myself! It sure must’ve been a hilarious sight if anyone was looking! And he wouldn’t stop talking between sobs either – he was like, ‘from next time onwards don’t take me to monster movies, let’s go to some nice movies like the Baymax ones!!’ LOL! 😀 So much for carefully planning and taking him to a movie which we thought he’ll enjoy! **eye-roll**

I’m trying to teach him a song for the singing competition they have in school this month-end and it isn’t progressing too well – albeit it really is kinda cute to hear him try to say those difficult Kannada words and get it all wrong! 😛 The theme is Kannada Folk songs and I’ve chosen a poem which I remember from my school days… let’s see how it goes! I’ll try to record and upload a clipping here if he does manage to learn the lines and recite! 🙂

In other news, all my craft-work and reading has taken a back-seat which really makes me sad – especially since I now have a space of my own in the new house, a small little library with a custom book shelf and a craft/work-table. But the problem is with it being located on the uppermost floor space of the house – by the time I finish all my daily chores and climb upstairs it’s typically time to go to bed, with the thoughts of having to rise early the next morning 😦 And weekends too are spent dusting/ cleaning/ tidying-up/ cooking or going out on errands. These are merely excuses and everybody only has 24 hours and it’s upto us to “make time” for things we want to do… I know all this too well, but haven’t really been able to find a balance. I hope to get there one day and hopefully revive my knitting and reading habits! On that hopeful thought, I will end this post…

Tales of the little-big boy

It has been quite sometime since I wrote about the little big boy in our house. He’s gonna be five this year… f-i-v-e! just imagine that! I think he’s growing up too fast for my liking! I miss his baby and toddler antics already 😦

Our sonny-boy just completed his lower kindergarten and is all set to enter the upper KG this summer! His two years at school have been good, but the reports quite contrasting. While he was the teachers’ darling in nursery with both his ma’am’s having a special soft corner for him, being one of the youngest in class; his LKG teachers have a different story to tell. Mid-way through the year we were told that he is quite naughty in class and is most often seen talking and dragging his neighbouring kids into discussions while the class is going on! My heart had sunk when I heard that and I had visions of him turning out into one of those naughty-always-talkative boys in class who’s name figures on the top of every list that the class leader makes! (this memory is from my school days, I’m not sure if they even do this now, for all I know today’s kids might laugh at the idea!!). One encouraging info the teacher had volunteered then was that he was always quick at the tasks assigned and would get around to talking only after finishing his work! A glimmer of hope, I thought!

Cut to the year-end meeting, this time the feedback was more positive with complaints being that he doesn’t seem interested or fascinated by any new concepts taught in class! Their guess was that it could be because he already knows them! Which I think translates into a pat-on-the-back for us parents! His naughtiness hasn’t diminished they said and what’s more he has learnt to tag kids names with titles that the teachers use! For e.g if the ma’am calls somebody talkative, he quickly nick-names them as talkative so-&-so!! But it all seemed to be in good humour and the teachers seemed happy with his academic progress, so that’s good news we heaved a sign of relief!

Also while we were waiting, I saw a beautifully coloured drawing pinned up on the class board. I asked S to know who had drawn and coloured the picture. First he said “I don’t know” and then said “me”. I dismissed him thinking he’s fooling around and telling stories. When we met his teacher she reconfirmed that it was indeed drawn by him and coloured with some help from them! I was incredulous! And what’s more she said that it was chosen to be used as the pic to be printed on the
back-page of all the notebooks! To say that we were thrilled is an understatement! She had a story to relate for that too – a child was chosen from each class to draw the picture and colour it and it was S chosen from his class. When he did it the first time, she saw that it wasn’t all that good. Knowing that he was good at drawing and capable of doing much better she asked him to draw again. But his royal highness was already bored! 😮 And he was more interested in doing what the other kids were doing in class. So then she took him aside and explained the significance behind it and that it would be printed on the books and coaxed him to try again. Then all the chosen kids were taken to the principal’s room to add more drama to the situation, that’s where they did the actual drawing! Phew! But with all the fee-paying and enquiries, we forgot to check the books, and later when we checked we found that the drawing wasn’t printed on the text books. On checking with the co-ordinator we were told that it would be printed on notebooks which will be given in class later. And amidst all that, we excited but stupid parents forgot to even click a pic of the drawing on our mobile phones! Well, in our defence we did ask the co-ordinator to keep aside a notebook sample for us 😦

As you’ve already gathered with all the rambling above, S is very interested in drawing and colouring activities. And he’s not satisfied just colouring ready-made printed pics in books. No sire, he needs to have the drawing replicated in his “diary-book” and then he has to colour it. On many occasions he tries to do that himself, but atleast once a day he gets into this sonorous whining mode that he can’t do it and so he wants me or his appa to do it for him! Oh the agony of replicating intricate drawings, you have to ask a harried parent like us! And that’s not it, the drawing reproduced should adhere to his strict guidelines in look and feel, shouldn’t be too small or too big, with constant drones of it has to be like-this-only and like-that-only! phew!

But when he chooses to draw of his own will, those are the best ones. I just love to see his imagination take flight and the fascinating thought behind his drawings 🙂 Here’s a sample of some he drew recently.

N_pics

The words are Net, Nest, Nut and Not. Not is depicted by a girl shaking her head to say No, and she’s wearing a butterfly clip! 😀

A_pics

A is for Alligator, Apple, Ant and (Hot)Air Balloon

M_pics

M is for Monkey, Mango, Melt and Mum 🙂

He just picked up the book on a whim and when I explained what he was supposed to draw he came up with the objects and drawings himself. The spellings are his own interpretation too! I was a besotted mother and wanted to preserve this moment forever, and hence didn’t bother to correct them! 😛 Any guesses on which is my favourite? the “mum” one of course! 😀 That one he didn’t tell me before he drew and I saw it only when I opened the page to click a pic. I was grinning from ear-to-ear and lost no time in sharing the masterpieces with friends and family on my whatsapp list! 😀

Another heartwarming milestone I wanted to capture here is his new-found love for words! yay! yay! yay! 😀 He’s totally into reading words and reciting spellings – off every source that he finds – be it books, newspapers, pamphlets, ads on TV, carton box labels etc. He is also making attempts at reading words and sentences in his story books which fills me with such joy! I just hope that his love for words continues and his excitement on having and reading new books grows multi fold in the coming years – then I’d feel that the efforts I’ve taken to make him acquainted with books from a young age (he was all of 3 months when I first read him his picture book!) would’ve borne fruit! 🙂

Aside from the above, he talks nineteen to the dozen as always and asks a gazillion questions all the time. He still plays a lot with his building blocks and puzzles and numerous cars and planes. He has become more demanding for TV time – though we have restricted it to only weekend-viewing of a few hours of cartoon, but he does watch unwanted ads and serials when we have our parents over or when we’re following cricket on TV. He has also been introduced now to the luring delights of an iPad thanks to his appa’s office people who’ve forced it into our lives 😡 But so far, it is being used only to show him bedtime stories and cartoon videos sometimes, and I am adamant to keep it that way. As we’ve observed and as also pointed out by his teachers, he is very sharp in picking up new stuff and has good grasping power. Sometimes this doesn’t work to our advantage – like his return van trip from school to his day-care takes all of 5-7 mins but within that short time he’s exposed to the evils of radio FM music and has picked up all the latest Kannada numbers – the tunes of which are catchy but the lyrics spouted are trash! He can recognize these from the back seat, on the car radio even if the volume is totally low; while his aghast mom can only splutter what? where? how? :-/

Well as my husband never fails to remind me, I guess I can’t keep him protected under my watchful eyes and wings always and he needs to be exposed to the ways and vagaries of the world too. According to the hubby, S not only needs to grow up to be “smart”, but also needs to be “street-smart”! Well, we can only wait and watch him grow, while we do our best to teach him the good always! And I am but an enchanted mother, who is still smitten by the antics of her thoughtful and kind little one, who never fails to declare in his sweetest kiddy voice everyday – ‘I love you, amma‘! I love you too kanda and will do so till eternity! :-*

Dream come true!

There are few instances in life that one can actually call a ‘dream come true’ moment. The kind, may be when you land a job at your dream workplace? or get a seat at a top-notch university that you coveted and worked hard for? or hold a much loved and wished-for new-born baby girl/ boy in hand after 9 months of nourishment in the womb.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

We had one such ‘dream-come-true moment’ last week when we stepped into our very own newly built home on the auspicious occasion of the gruhapravesha, in the valley alongside a small hillock in our beloved city of Bangalore! 🙂

I don’t clearly remember when exactly it was that this became our dream… may be after 2-3 years of being a happily married and carefree couple with no real responsibilities on our shoulders. That must’ve been around the time when we saw friends and family making investments and buying/ building their homes to settle down and a seed was sown in a corner of our minds that we’d like to have a nest of our own too.

We were on the look-out for houses/ plots/ flats from then-on but never really seriously got around to buying anything. Mainly because we were confused – we wanted an independent house but the ones we saw were way beyond budget and more so, needed repairs and renovation to suit our needs. Only a flat would fit into our budget, but we weren’t very keen and also couldn’t find good ones in the localities we were looking in. The plots in the city had sky-rocketing prices and the affordable ones were a good 10-15 kms in the outskirts…nothing seemed to fall in place.

It was around 5 years back that the hubby came across this layout while he was on one of his site-scouring trips on the bike. He mentioned it to me and it sounded promising. We went around soon enough and I was excited, this looked like the place for us! It was well within the city and what’s more, very near and well connected to all the localities that we’d normally traverse regularly; most importantly it would be close to his mom’s place for the hubby. It was just 10 mins ride away from our present much-loved locality of stay. One wouldn’t have to travel for hours daily along the A/ B/ C roads in Bangalore to reach the place. It was a locality inhabited and maintained by decent, well-cultured families. The layout was on a small hillock and just riding-up one could feel the dip in temperature with a cool breeze to caress, with a panoramic view of the entire city. And what’s more, the cost – although it would require us to stretch a bit, wouldn’t be beyond what we could afford!

The cons were – the approach roads weren’t all that wide as it was through a locality which was previously a village and had been converted into layouts without any planning. There was no Cauvery water supply piping yet, although it had reached the neighbouring locality down the hillock – we would have to depend on the layout’s water supply till that fell into place. The pros seemed to outweigh the cons and our minds were made-up and we initiated the discussions to buy a site in the layout. There were many months of tense waiting and the hubby did the rounds of several BBMP and government offices to make sure that the titles and papers were all in the clear. With the number of scams tumbling out of the govt. closets these days, we didn’t want our life savings to go down the drain!

After much running around, finally everything was sorted and we were ready to sign on the dotted line and after spending a tiring morning at the registrar’s office the house papers were in our hands. Or the bank’s hands rather, as we’d taken a combined plot+construction loan to be able to invest. Nevertheless we were thrilled with our very own piece of land, on which we dreamt looking fondly into the future, that our home would stand one fine day. For a couple of years after that we lay low, paying the EMIs and getting on with life… and soon we got busy with our bundle of joy who arrived to further add to our happiness. Soon enough as the months rolled by, we realized that we had to begin the construction – as the combined loan requires one to begin construction within a stipulated time period after the loan is taken.

Then began the exercise of trying to find the right contractor/ engineer/ architect who could translate our dreams into reality. We visited some architecture firms, spoke to many contractors, got the design done by some contractors, who’d also design homes, considered the option of going in for alternate construction methods, had various debates on what was good and what was not, visited several under-construction houses to check if we liked something… this went on for some months. One such day we walked into a house nearing completion of construction in one of the cross-roads of our locality and immediately fell in love with the way it was designed. It was spacious and well-thought-out with lot of importance given to good-lighting and ventilation. That was what we primarily wanted in our house – it had to be well-lit and well-ventilated giving us a sense of wide spaces throughout in all the rooms. We quickly got the contact details of the architect and got in touch – it was a lady, freelance architect who was just getting back into her working groove with a young daughter on hand.

We fixed up an appointment and went to speak to her; we told her our needs and looked at pictures of some of her previous assignments. She frankly told us that she took up few projects and only with people whom she felt comfortable with; one – because of her young daughter and secondly because she would be involved in every stage of the construction right till we moved into the house. Her job wouldn’t end with just handing over the design drawings and so her rates weren’t cheap either. We contemplated and said ok and she came up with the design of our home. It was exhilarating going through that design with her – seeing our needs being transformed into nooks and corners of the various rooms in the house. As with all her designs there was scope for ample light and air and the house would be crowned by a huge skylight! We loved the design and said yes; of course it had to go through many refinements with various sittings and rounds of discussions later.

Thereafter came the choice of the contractor – we spoke to one of our liking and another recommended by her, but the rates quoted were too high for our budget we thought – which in hindsight was probably a mistake, we feel at times, but nevertheless we decided not to choose either. Around the same time, my sister’s family were planning the construction of their home, for which they had approached my engineer uncle to handle everything – right from the design to the planning and construction. We decided to talk to him also to check if he could supervise the construction for the design we’d already gotten from the architect. Our uncle said yes, mainly because both the houses would be fairly close-by on the same side of town, only a few kms apart, but with the condition that he would hire a maestri to oversee the daily work and we would have to do all coordination for the materials purchases and payments etc. This way he wouldn’t be involved in the financial aspect of the construction and would only serve as the facilitator for getting the construction done. We agreed to it, knowing that it wouldn’t be easy for us – full-time working individuals with a small child to manage all this, but atleast this way we’d be able to significantly control the cost we reasoned.

And thus began the saga of the house construction which went on for a good year and a half. There were many highs and many lows… lets suffice to say that we were involved with every single aspect as the house came up through the various stages right from the foundation to getting the loads of sand and cement, from the laying of the bricks & concrete to the roofing and plastering as the structure came up in a matter of months. But then began the various travails – as more parties got involved and when we had to do the various selections, the co-ordination and the involvement and decisions increased multifold. The architect gave us good options, but since we were literally doing lot of research to get the best suited products at as less cost as possible, the decisions were very difficult. The flooring selection took ages after lot of dilly-dallying and we rushed to place the order for the sanitary-ware as there were rumours that the prices would shoot up post the festival season. We ran around for the tiles and when it came to choosing the carpenters we had more worries evaluating the options. Whatever we chose had to go through 2 level of approvals – one with the architect and then by the various working-teams for feasibility.

There were tons of arguments and heated discussions and we got to the point of going crazy with the confusion and issues we faced sometimes, the hubby having to deal with most of it. Taking the painting, carpentry and flooring work to a point of logical conclusion before the pooja can be a story by itself! The hubby was on-site getting last-minute stuff and cleaning done till 11 PM on the eve of the pooja. Well, at the end of it, we do have a beautiful home to go to, as every single person gushed on the d-day. But the stress and heart-burn we went through was something we could have done without. In hindsight sometimes we do feel that having a contractor would’ve probably saved us most of this trouble, but then we wouldn’t have been so much richer in experience! 😀

All said and done, we’re nearly at the end of this journey of building a home from scratch – there still are minor things to be fixed and completed and it will be sometime before we can actually move in.

The courtyard leading to our hearts!

The courtyard leading to our hearts!

And then it will be a whole new journey altogether, with the excitement of setting up everything afresh; but more importantly of filling our home and hearts with enough love and joy, to envelop us and all our loved ones in it’s folds of warmth 🙂 And that feeling is aptly described by the name we have chosen for our nest! Wish us luck, won’t you?! 🙂

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! :-/