Category Archives: Mera Bachpan

P is for Postcards from Port Blair

I am totally going to cheat on this post. For most of you Port Blair is a travel destination, for me and for a lot of us who grew up there – Port Blair is a feeling. Last evening as i sat down to write about this place, the words felt inadequate. How do i put to words the place I was happiest in – an innocent carefree life. How do I describe the place I don’t want to go back to because I fear the memory is more beautiful than the reality. It’s the place i most want to take the Tall One and the Elf to but i dont want to because i feel they wont see it with my biased eyes

I posed this question to my “chaddi buddies” who grew up with me in this idyllic islands and got them to write about living in Port Blair. What amazed me is that each of our memories and thoughts are so similar. Some of us grew up there, some of us (like me) were there for a couple of years, some still called it home (where their parents still are) but we all felt the magic. The magic was in its simplicity, in its beauty and its purity. Bear with the post as 66% of my chaddi buddies recount our wonder years.

This is what Gi my friend of the lemonade fame had to say:

Growing up in Port Blair was fun. Everydat was a picnic -the kind you read in Enid Blyton books. We could see the sea from everywhere. We could go on boat rides whenever we wanted to, have a mid night picnic in the middle of the sea on a full moon night, go swimming and snorkeling. I still miss the smell of the sea and the feel of the sand under my feet, even though its been half a decade since I went back there. I would like to say that apart from all the good things, I personally saw pretty rough times too and Port Blair was my refuge from the world.

A few of us had been living in Port Blair since we were very little and left it when we grew up and a few us came and went with Parents postings. There was a magic bond that was created and I think it was because of the place, the sheer simplicity of it. I can say this for all of us that we would all like to go back there together and experience that again.

And this is what my other friend P had to say:

They called her a junglee – a quiet shy girl, full of dreams and ambitions. She geew from being a little girl, to a a teenager and a young adult on these beautiful.From the shores of the sea to the middle of forests a life which seems like something right out of the jungle book.

Carefree and happy full of memories- Running to catch a seat in the bus to get to the ferry, watching the sun rise and set each day along the horizon,the shimmers of the waves still catch her eyes and remind her of many picnics and outings movies and birthdays with her favorite bunch of the buddies -people she has known for most of her life…

PortBlair will always remain part of her no matter were she is or were she goes…

There is Reshmi from mum in the curry fame – she looks back nostalgically to the place which she still calls home (this was by far the toughest post to edit, i do hope she features the whole post on her blog someday

Living in a country  (US) where I did  not grow up but moved for education and job, I have often been asked ‘Where are you originally from?” Since my answer is not the simplest and the place not the easiest to know or locate, I i usually pull up a map to show. The reaction I get from people when I show them the speckles in a vast ocean on a map, never ceases to amuse me, followed by the ‘What’s the place called again?”

As much as I love telling people about my home, it’s the next question from them (which almost always follows the first) that trumps me. “Why in the world would you leave such a beautiful place to come HERE?”
However pragmatic my answer  sounds about a better life and job and all that jazz, truth is I ask myself that question more often that I have been asked by someone else.
How can you not love a place so beautiful! The only image that conjures in my mind when someone says HOME is that of a small town, views of the sea from every where, hills, clear skies (of course when its not pouring!), fresh air…I can go on. This is the place I spent 18 years of my life. Place that taught me the charm of small communities and simple living; the value of finding small joys in mundane things (getting drenched in the rain while walking back from school in spite of that umbrella in the bag!); where I made friendships that have lasted for so long that I don’t remember how long. Where I met the love of my life. Where my parents still are, where some of the people I value the most still live. The place that shaped my profession. The place that I would go back in a heartbeat (but then life’s reality blah blah blah).
Port Blair is also the place that I also miss the most. My husband thinks it’s only a matter of years that this love will give away to a mere memorable affection, and I fight him for that unwanted opinion. It is true that I may have chose to ignore the fact that the place and times have changed. Things may not be the same. But my Port Blair will always be what I remember from when I left. Port Blair may have moved on without me, but I will remain in denial that it has. And that is the reason why every time the sky becomes over cast, I remember home.Any time I hear the rain lashing out in the night and pounding my windows, I close my eyes and pretend I am home, lying on my bed, and falling asleep to the sound of the rain.
This is what my friend – “Ginny” had to say
It is and always has been about the people. Port Blair to me was my friends, family,and neighbors. These people shaped my experiences of the town, and my childhood.With my family I explored most of what the island had to offer- hikes, boat trips, snorkeling and swimming on some of the most remote islands. My neighbors were the playmates during the scheduled power cuts in the evenings, and companions on various picnics that our mums organized. But, it was my friends who made Port Blair come alive for me.

It was with and through them that I appreciated what it had to offer. Not, just the beauty, but a sense of community and self. Even though we were thousands of miles away from everything, I belonged. We were behind the times, but it didn’t feel like that because my friends (the chaddi buddies you’ve heard about before) were way ahead of the times. With our fabulous sense of fashion and selves, we had a blast in what could often be a sleepy town. Countless hours were spent on the phone (we used them to talk to each other, I know…how ancient!), and then countless more at school and tuitions.

As with most things, our collective time on the island came to an end. We dispersed off to corners of the mainland, and some left the country. It was then that I realized,going back to Port Blair was nice, because it had been home, but it was only fun and real when my friends were around.

So, to me Port Blair is a state of mind, and thanks to my friends and our whatsapp group, I’m there each and everyday soaking in the sunshine, feeling the spray of salt on my skin and swimming with the dolphins.
This is part of the blogathon for April and this is my blog spot for P

N is for Namma Bengaluru

Childhood memories of playing with this great group of kids, running into the church compound, playing endless games of hide and seeks and innumerable board games. The grannies pampering me, lots of visits to relatives and the one hundred thousand times I have walked on commercial street tugging at my mom’s elbow for fountain Pepsi – a novelty in those days.

I didn’t know if the weather was good – I came from the islands of andamans I should have felt it, I know but it didn’t matter. Bengaluru was always home. Where I went every summer holiday!

Then came 2005 – when I moved to Bangalore to work. Crazy work routine, horrible and rude auto drivers (yes it’s up there in the complaints department), demanding bosses, childhood friends moving away left me with not much company other than the mater and the boyfriend (now husband) I had no friends of my own – nothing.

And truth be told, as much as leaving my family behind sucked, I was happy to move to Mumbai – my land of freedom and friends. My land of beautiful rains, my land of college and B school memories. The place my heart would always belong. Even now writing about Mumbai makes me nostalgically think of my favourite marine drive.

But Mumbai with a kid made my heart hurt a little. My kid had no place to run around, we were always in traffic, the schools sucked with their tiny buildings and lack of playgrounds, moving between schools and daycare seemed like a logistical nightmare. I had such a heavy heart while searching for schools there.

And then the Tall one got a job which could bring him here back to Namma Bengaluru. We jumped at the opportunity. I was sure it was a great move for the Elf.

It was not as exciting as moving to an absolutely new city but we were moving to a part of Bengaluru I didn’t know at all. And had no childhood associations with. Mostly I was worried about feeling like I did in 2005.

But Bengaluru has amazed me. Yes, the elf has everything I wanted for him growing up. But what I am amazed at is how much Bangalore has given me. I get to see my grannies more for sure and when the rest of the family is here, I get more time with them. The weather (not counting the last 2 months of absolute torture) makes me feel so energetic and great which is truly an achievement for an intrinsically lazy person like me. The Tall one is less worn out, we have more space, I have a bunch of stay at home Mummy friends who are intelligent and fun. I know I can do so much more with my life here than I ever could in Mumbai.

But mostly I am at peace. Something we don’t value enough.

Thank you Bengaluru for everything.

Maybe this is what coming home is all about!

This is my entry for N for the April AtoZ challenge and yay I finally introduce a category called namma Bengaluru to my list

M is for Mamma Mia

It’s almost blasphemous for me to choose anything else for M. M is for my mommy and I am totally going to cheat on this blog! I wrote this many many moons ago about my mommy and is still as relevant today as it was then. My thoughts or feelings haven’t changed.

https://dropzofjupiter.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/the-lioness-and-her-cub/

Did I still say that this holds true. Yup believe it while it was written 6 years ago, I am still 28.

The only thing that has changed since is that I have someone who now calls me mamma. Sometimes more often that I would like 😉

Having a baby has proved to me once again why I need my mommy around – the way my mom looked after me when my kid was born was well… What only a mother can do.

My only advice to all going to be moms is – however awesome your mil is, go to your mommy when you have a baby.

The one person in the world who was as bothered about me as she was about the baby.

The person who walked with my kid for 2-3 hours as he screamed during his colicky stage.

The person who stayed up with him the night he was born as I slept almost comatose after a long long 17 hour labour.

The person who took over from “‘munde tai” his personal masseuse when he was born and gave him extra special baths and massages – he still gets them when she is here.

The only one who told a starving nursing mother to let the baby cry and finish my food.

The person who gives me confidence that I am raising my kid ok.

And most importantly the person who told me not to feel guilt and to prioritise me too.

The best compliment I get is when she thinks I am a good mom. Because while other kids my age are now looking after their parents – I am still being looked after.

And knowing her (and knowing me) that’s not going to change when I am 60 either

G is for girlfriends and G is for Gi !

I have been secretly very pleased that today was the G day because i was meeting my bachpan ka dost “Gi” today. Gi is a silent reader of my blog so everyone wave to her now.

For the record Gi is inspiring – life gave her lemons, and at the moment she is making lemonade, sure she complains about the occasional lemon but on the whole, she is a very cheerful lemonade maker and I know for a fact (and I know she doesn’t believe it) that her lemonade is eventually going to be Michelin star worthy.

Gi I am documenting this here so that I can tell you told you so someday.

But the story of her lemons and lemonade is hers to tell, let me tell you about us.

Us would totally be incomplete without the addition of 5 other lead characters from school – we call ourselves Chaddi buddies which when very very loosely translated into English is “Girlfriends” which again is what G is for.

During our school days, we were never a mob of 7 friends who walked around together like you see in the movies. Though now that I think about it that would have been totally cool. We would have looked the part in our cringeworthy clothes of the 1990’s. The ones we will never ever put up on Facebook!

I have to admit though that even in bunches of 2-3 we were quite scary. Against the quiet conservative landscape of Port Blair, we were the girls laughing away while we troubled others.

But no we were not a mob, we each had individual relationships with each other, at various points of time – the degree of “closeness varied’ but when we came together in 2012 to create Chaddi buddies on whatsapp – we all just fit. We were just right!

We started off exactly where we left off some 15 odd years ago. Recounting old jokes and incidents, discussing old crushes, gossiping about our classmates – but we started building on our friendship – husbands and kids were introduced, recipes and ambitions were discussed, advice and threats were pelted out.

I know for a fact one of the main reason I didn’t suffer from Post partum depression was these ladies – there was always someone to talk to, or laugh with, always demanding a baby pic (thanks to which I have pics of almost every day of the elfs first year – at that time I have to admit I was pained but now i am grateful for the memories)

Our relationship with each other is easy – there are no demands and no expectations. These ladies are my backbone; their babies are mine, their lives are part of my story, we have each others back, we might chat a little less now but we still chat everyday. Everyday since 1st Jun 2012.

We know we are friends for a lifetime .

Mini reunions have happened and all we now wait for is that big bad big reunion.

Someday we will be a mob of 7 women walking around – you and you and you be scared!

The blog is part of the April A toZ challenge

D is for dramebaaz

I have always been called a drama queen, a nautanki, a dramebaaz – though I don’t have a clue why.

Of course years ago I did declared that my whole life was ruined because my mom didn’t buy me an anchor cross stitch set.

And yes I do give the husband dialogues of how he will miss me when I am dead and gone when he chooses to stare at the TV rather than pay heed to what I am saying.

But that’s like normal human behaviour now isn’t it?

So anyway, the mater had many years ago started calling me Meena Kumari and while recounting my baby tales has let others very kindly know that I was/am a Meena Kumari.

Whatever. Talk of rumours spreading. No basis at all.

Anyway it would seem that Meena kumari ka aulaad (meena’s kumari’s offspring) has arrived on the scene and threatens to take away my title.

The elf declares tragic expression in place that the scratch on his hand is the worst in the whole world and that it will never ever go away for all his life. The scratch is reminisced months after the skin has grown back with same tragic expression on face.

And God forbid any living being dead or alive was involved in causing the said scratch. The poor person shall live on in bad books till kingdom come

Much like the boy who whacked him on the birthday. Any discussion on the elf’s bad behaviour has him bringing up with a very sad expression how that boy hit up and that too in his birthday.

And quite often I have been diverted from what we are discussing and drawn into a conversation of how it was not good of said boy to hit him.

He accuses me of never ever taking him swimming if I miss a day or how I am always late to pick him up if by mistake I am a couple of minutes late for the bus.

The performance standards of motherly behaviour have to be A-ok else I am immediately rated with an F grade.

So in addition to all things that are good in his looks and personality – I have also conferred on my son a great deal of dramebaazi and dealing with it is bringing about in me a deep sense of sympathy for myself.

Aaah karma

Oh wait didn’t I start off by declaring I am not a drama queen.

Ironically while i was categorising my post I realised I had created a category called drama queen

This is part of the #AtoZchallenge for April . Unofficially of course Coz I didn’t know of the challenge till late but whatever 🙂

Past connections! – day 6

She used to be a best friend….we were twins. We wore similar colour clothes to college just to prove to people that our wavelengths matched. We were always found together.

We grew up but grew apart not very amicably. She is a softer version of the person she was. I am a more sensible version of the person I was .

We met after many years. I am cautious with her. She is tentative around me. We chat, she tells me her troubles, I am more reserved. We don’t talk about our kids. We talk about life and relationships. Rather she talks. I listen..

I want that old connection back. It isn’t constant. But I think I want to work on it. Somewhere my heart has a soft corner for the girl I knew. We have a connected past. So many teenage secrets have been shared, so many boys have been discussed, so many grand life plans were made. I kept wondering what she felt for me. Or for the us that we used to be.

That’s the funny thing – at times you connect with strangers, old friends sometimes immediately connect, sometimes it isn’t instant but you want it to be. All you can do is make the effort right? And hope that the other person also wants to.

Welcome my dear friend,

Welcome my dear friend,

It’s been a little under a year since we last met. I just need to see you to feel refreshed – I know you have this influence on a lot of people. Your perfume always signals your arrival. Nothing smells better to me.

You and I we go back a long time, you were always there to accompany me on my first day of school. While in the Andamans, you were there to welcome me every afternoon of the nine months you visited us – right as we got off the school bus truck. We jumped into puddles as we made our way home. Well I jumped and you elegantly pit-patted your way into those puddles. In college we met at marine drive where you throughly drenched me

Yes my beloved monsoons welcome !!! With you off goes the heat and the sticky face and in comes the cool breeze and feel of everything being anew.

A lot has happened since we last met. I have a son now – who I hope will love you as much as I do and not view you with the indifference his dad has or the dislike that a lot of people especially Mumbaites have for you!

You remember, last year in Bhandardhara – where i threw off the umbrella at the dam and got throughly wet! The friends declared me insane and foresaw all kinds of illness. Of course I didn’t know it at that time, but that would have been around the time, the Elf was conceived, so you see you did make your mark on his life very early. The year before last, a walk after gym in the rain made my day.

It was short visit by you today but everything looks so clean – so washed. The elf was asleep and woke up to a very excited mother telling him about the rain. He didn’t quite get what the excitement was about but loved the little rhyme on the rain that i insisted on singing to him

“It’s raining, it’s pouring,
The little baby is snoring,
He got into bed and missed the rain
WOken up to find his mom insane.

This year he might be a little young to greet you as i love to but maybe next year, he will throw off his umbrella and get drenched and joy the excited screams of all the kids playing downstairs.