Wednesday, November 21, 2007

As I've mentioned earlier, the Bombay I grew up in was a much more laid-back city than it is now. It was also a much smaller city. In those days the Aarey Milk Colony(was what it was called) was far out of the city and we were taken there as Junior School kids, as a one day excursion out of the city!
There were more open spaces in those days. We were taken to the Malabar Hill gardens quite frequently, where there was a boot shaped slide--more like the 'Old woman who lived in a shoe' kind of thing--a boot with a roof on top. I wonder whether it is still there. Once we moved to Bandra, the Bandstand was a favourite spot for a quick visit.

Juhu beach was not the hip and happening place it is now and we went often to swim there and I think there was a club nearby which someone in the family was a member of.

There were lots of eateries we were taken to as both my parents were adventurous in their food tastes. I remember the Irani restaurants for the falooda and pattice; then there was Nanking's Chinese restaurant (the one near the Royal Yacht Club) near the Gateway of India, a regular haunt; there was Bombelli's bakery at Breach Candy (not there any more) which had the most moist chocolate pastries. Then there was the Parsi Dairy farm icecreams, hot jalebis--somewhere Worli side is what I remember faintly--bhelpuri around the Breach Candy area, absolutely delicious Kala jamuns and rosogollas which were brought to the house in big clay pots (absolutely unthinkable now I'm sure), gingerale and some other fizzy soft drink, all inextricably linked to my memories of Bombay.
Of course now Bombay has more than enough famous eateries and the bhelpuri and hot jalebis are available in so many places. But I promise you that those absolutely black and sweet gulab/kala jamuns were to die for and I've never had stuff like that afterwards.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I haven't posted here in a long time. Somehow the memories didn't seem so important and my words not at all compelling!
There is one more memory from that childhood visit to my aunt's farm, which shocked and upset me then. That was my first instance of seeing untouchability at close quarters (or at least my first clear memory). The fields were being harvested and the rice fields were full of workers. At that time they too were fed by the house. So, at noon, I saw them all sitting down in a long line in the front yard away from the house. As I watched, each of the people sitting on the ground made a hole in the ground in front of them (this was in the Mavelikara side of Kerala, where the topsoil is almost like sea sand). Then the holes were lined with leaves and they were then served with 'kanji'--rice gruel into these holes, which they ate with spoons made from folded jackfruit leaves. I was really upset. I remember asking my aunt why they had to eat like that, why did they not have some vessel to have the 'kanji' in. She explained to me that they were from the lowest castes and could not be given food in our vessels.
I am really glad to say that that was the last time I saw anything like that. This would have been in the early '50s. After that I must say Kerala progressed rapidly. Elected Communist governments certainly improved the lot of people a great deal, bringing in education for all and really helping the lower castes feel a sense of pride in themselves and a sense of hope for the future. Now, belonging to the Backward classes is not something to be hidden because of all the benefits, chief of which is reservation of course. Now, each caste works hard to get the 'backward' tag attached! What a change!!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I'm going to be 56 tomorrow. Most of the time the inner me doesn't remember that. But of course in the outer me there's no getting away from that!

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Listening to: You're listening to Jazz from www.Batanga.com. The Best in Latin Music.
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

There are so many wonderful memories of the time I spent in Kerala at that time, enough for a huge number of posts.
One of the memories is connected with one of the cows. There were a number of cows there. As I've always loved animals, I hung around, when they were being milked, when they were taken being untied to be led out to the fields and when they were led back to their shed. I loved the smell of the cows and the hay(which is dry rice stalks here).
One day one of the cows was being delivered of a calf. I remember her as a big black cow. Naturally I wanted to see. I was in time to watch the calf being wiped down and the cow standing up to lick her. Oh how cute the calf was. It stood up on it's wobbly legs and took a step towards me. I was thrilled. Just then my aunt called me. So I very merrily turned round to go back to the kitchen verandah. The calf--probably because I was the first living thing he/she had seen, started following me. The cow took one look and decided that her calf was being stolen. She charged after the both of us--calf and me, be mooing loudly. I ran for my life--5 yr old me--and cleared the verandah steps in one jump, by which time someone came and caught the cow! But I must confess that as the memory is dredged up, I remember being scared, but more excited by the thought that the calf followed me!

Friday, September 7, 2007

After my sister was born, maybe around 3 or 4 months later--I don't really remember, I was sent off to Kerala. I must have been there for around 2months at least. My time there was divided between staying with my mother's elder sister at a farm near Mavelikara, and my father's sister's house in Tiruvella. My mother told me later it was because that with two younger ones after me, she felt she couldn't give me enough attention and so sent me off. Besides, I was generally friendly and so didn't have too much of a hassle going to new places to stay.
Whatever the reason, I had a thoroughly enjoyable time staying with my aunts.
More on that later.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

I remember the day my sister was born (or it may have been while my mother was in hospital with her). That was in Jan 1956. As my mother was in hospital, only my father was there to take us to hospital. I guess he must have got my little brother ready too. But what I remember was that after I had got my dress on, my dad combed my hair. Normally, I had a side parting (pic. in earlier post). My father just combed all my hair back and I remember protesting vigorously, telling him that girls did not have their hair combed that way. He told me that that's the only way he knew how to do it and that I could have my hair combed the way I wanted when my mum came back from the hospital!
As soon as we reached the hospital, I didn't even look at the baby, but ran straight to my mother and told her that Dad had no idea how to comb hair. I was so upset that my hair had been combed like a boy's :) How my mother laughed.
I was almost 4 1/2 then.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Bandra house was situated opposite the tiny, quaint, St. Stephen's church on Mt. Mary Rd. The grounds of the house covered almost an acre. [Today there are 3 flats there :(]
Our neighbours who lived downstairs and we, were supposed to share the garden My mother had a gardener and laid out flower beds & I vaguely remember a lawn. I remember one time my mother even planted cassava(kappa) which she brought from Kerala.
It was certainly heavenly for us small children, there was so much place to play. The downstairs people had a boy around our age, who went to the same school too. So we were always playing, my younger brother, B from downstairs and me. My kid sister was just a baby after all. I can't find any pictures of the garden there, though I know there was one. You'll have to take my word for it I guess :)

Friday, August 17, 2007



This is a picture of the terrace outside the 'ballroom' of the Bandra home. The whole floor was decorated with an old-fashioned mosaic design, where the small pieces were all from broken pieces of china. I remember the pattern vaguely as white and a dark greeny blue. It was really pretty.

Monday, August 6, 2007

By the time I was 4, we moved to Bandra to Mount Mary Hill. Since we lived there for 5 years, the memories are very clear, apart from the fact that there were lots of pictures taken by my mother's younger sister.
It was a huge place. I remember going to see it on a dark evening, climbing up the wooden stairs and walking into this huge room, which was to serve as our company room. My mother was very pregnant at that time with my younger sister and had to waddle up the stairs. But she liked the place mainly because there was a huge ground and a lovely terrace for us children. It was actually one of those old Brit mansions. The actual sitting room and dining room and two bedrooms were downstairs. There was a side door out of that sitting room which lead up these wooden stairs to the ballroom, I kid you not! It was just like one imagined a ballroom to be from books I've read since. There were around 4 or 5 doors leading out onto the landing and 3 doors to the terrace. My mother told me fairly recently (before she died), that the landlord had wanted them to take the whole house. But she apparently said she was just not prepared to look after such a huge place. So we took only the top floor and somebody else took the ground floor.
So then we had this huge room which my mother had a hard time filling up, just 2 bedrooms and an enclosed verandah at the back, which we used as the dining room. That front room was so big my kid brother learned how to bicycle in that room!
Here is an edited picture from that time--
Those are just 2 of the four doors. You can get an idea of the place I think.
I'll post more pictures and more about the house in another post.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Pixelchick asks what my first memory was. Well I thought I'd do a little post on that. My earliest memory is a happy memory. I remember the flat and my high chair at the dining table and a cornflour pudding in the shape of a pink rabbit, waiting for me. I didn't like drinking milk and so my mother made these for me most days. We used to get Brown and Polson's custard powder in various colours and flavours. So my mother used to make one for me for tea and I remember the pink rabbit so well. This is somewhat like that except this is jelly.

Another memory from those times was not so nice. I used to go from school to a much older married cousin's house and be there for a while till I went home. Well, one day, while my cousin was sleeping and his wife was looking after me, I drew coloured pictures all over a wall of theirs!. They were a newly married couple then and the poor wife was horrified and told her husband the minute he woke up. He growled at me for his wife's sake and that was all. But I remember the terrified feeling, wondering whether I would get a spank or get shouted at.
Both these memories are from before I was 4 (I think).

Friday, July 20, 2007

1953-'55

I was born in Bombay, the Bombay Salman Rushdie writes about in Midnight's children (which was what so attracted me in the book).
My earliest memory is living in a flat, which I'm told was called Ben Nevis, somewhere near Kemp's corner. I still have hazy memories of verandahs facing the sea and the sound of the sea. I'm told we stayed there from when I was around 2 till I was 4.
My younger brother must have been around(there is only 20 months difference between us), but I can't remember him, though I do remember going to a nursery school nearby--Villa Theresa apparently. As I can remember, I enjoyed school.
The Bombay skyline of that time was already mostly flats--particularly in that area. But life was far less frenetic than today. The skyline in that area has certainly changed a great deal, but has retained enough of the old to give me a faint sense of familiarity when I visited after many years. I loved being a Bombayite!
This was very much a part of the skyline in my growing up days--gracious Bombay

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

still being created! This is to be started after my children leave.