Sepia Tinted Memories


The older I get… the more I seem to want to go back to my childhood 🙂

It just seems to me, that the more complex, the world around me gets, I start to value the simplicity that life was. Thoughts and memories drift in and out of my mind and the line between them just blurs out.

Have you ever felt an ache when you are in the middle of  a reverie about some thing long back, and you are so deeply engrossed, that you are practically living the moment again… and then at one, you “come back” into the present, into “Now” and have this dull sad feeling that, those moments are just gone forever? That you have grown up, grown out, grown apart, that situations have changed, and all that you are left with is such a feeling of loss… of not being able to have held those moments close to you for longer…

…the irony is that while you were living those times, you really had no idea of how precious those passing minutes were…

…any ways, so like I said, I am drifting around nowadays, between, the past, the present and the future. I have a lot of time on my hands and no distractions… and so cute, sweet memories creep in, and I am often amazed that its not the “big bang” events that I remember, but the seemingless, routine ones…

… like for example, I am aching to go back and celebrate the diwali of my childhood. I grew up in Delhi, and so we’d have the Autumn holidays around October. Exams just over, and the climate just perfect, I remember spending whole days loitering about the colony parks with my band of merry men 🙂

The place where we lived was surrounded by parks..and it was in one of these parks that we’d have the Dusshehra celebrations. There was a group of people who would create the Dusshehra effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran and Meghnath from scratch and we’d spent delightful days just tracking the development. We’d spent entire days in the park, interacting with this group, inspecting the hands, legs, the face of the effigies, tracking how many crackers were placed in them…. I can’t imagine a more carefree time. Our mom’s would actually pack us tiffins for lunch and bring them to the park, cause we’d just refuse to budge!

I remember, making lists for Diwali, of crackers, and diyas, and the Diwali cleaning, and then the D day itself. And more than any crackers or friends, I remember the simple pooja at home. Such peace, such contentment. The house set aglow with diya’s and candles, guests, sweets, and a lovely pooja which has stories within stories, and in papa’s voice. <sigh>

I really do want to go back home for Diwali this year… back to Delhi… back to the sudden nip in the air, and the bhutta, and the Diwali lights and sales. No matter how old I get, I feel like the time spent with my folks is the best time ever.

… I wish somethings never changed! that I was a kid, in the same place, similarly carefree and at peace, with lesser cares and more smiles…

 

<Sigh> <sigh> <sigh>

(Not the typical come back post you were expecting, right?, There is more to come!)

We celebrated Lohri/Pongal/Makar Sankranti yesterday.  I think this is the first time I have really put in any effort to make any preparation for any festival.  Till now, it’s always been either of the moms who would be the event manager and we have only showed up as celebrities on the red carpet 🙂 

So this time we went the whole nine yards. We bought all the stuff for the pooja.. and for the bonfire, surfing for “Sunder mundri oye” on the net and the next day for kolam designs.  And cooked all that special festival food. 

Some pics from the day

The Kolam design at the doorstep

 

Decoration near the hob

 It was just the two of us, and so after the hectic first half of the day… we settled down to watch Hum Aapke Hain Kaun ( for the nth time ) to get that “family family” feeling 🙂 Ya.. I know we could’ve called friends over, but somethings you want to reserve for family, right… even if it means connecting with them through phonecalls and photos that can be shared with them online.

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and festivities are synonymous to me.  I love all the bonhomie, all the relatives gathering, all those customs and traditions, making a big deal of everything, teasing, laughter, guppein and all that. I know it isn’t a la-di-dah movie and yes it is stereotypical in the way it portrays people. Women, you know, smiling homemakers.. the men… gentlemen going to work, the quintessensial dadaji,  the understanding moms-in-law, the sensible, worldly wise moms, the ever smiling, almost friendly servants.. and the feminist in me scoffed at the portrayal. It’s an idealistic fantasy movie. But to be honest with you, career woman, jet-setter in me still loves to watch it…and though I love it..it leaves me unsettled EVERYTIME.

Everytime I watch it, I get this sneaky suspicion that maybe women, who don’t have conflicts about their role in the family, are probably happier than us women, who are constantly arguing, with themselves,  and with the world about perceptions, achievements, roles.. the works. The families do get better looked after, the relationships are stronger, the women are not tired all the time, and there is atleast one person who is not stressed out.  Also I can’t help but envy joint families at least the way I see them in a very idealistic HAHK scenario.

Somewhere deep in my heart, it also makes me wonder about the legacy that I would I be passing on to our kids. Would they really associate a Diwali with preparing lists of patakas, and an evening of Pooja and stories.. or a Pongal with the heavenly aroma of jaggery and kolam on the doorstep. Would they understand what a mausi, mama, bhua, cousins etc mean? Would they have the comfort of knowing that they are in a circle of a lot of loving adults who care for them and love them and dote on them with all their heart?

Somehow felt that “Life”.. as in “Life” that is festivals, and family and banter, and phone calls and gossip and people coming over, and tolerance, is getting lost in the whirlwind of deadlines and 8X8 schedules.  It didn’t feel like it was worth the things we were sacrificing.

I also realized that this is how it is with the entire generation. And that maybe life as we know it, is changing. Our parents knew a different life as children than the one they lived as adults, which was the life we lived as kids, and sorely miss in our adult lives. The problem is that I don’t know what to hold on to, from the life I had lived, that I would like to my kids to enjoy someday. And I worry that I will lose out on something really valuable, if I don’t figure it out soon enough.

Do you ever get that sort of feeling?

Edited to add:

One more resolution for this year.. to go all out to celebrate all things worth celebrating… with as many friends/relatives as possible, and to celebrate all festivals with all the customs and traditions around it. 🙂

I love train journeys.

There is something about sitting in a rickety rackety coach, peering out of the window, watching the changes in scenery. The everchanging scenery, donning a new colour at each stop, symbolises life to me. Sometimes green, Sometimes grey, and always racing past at 100 miles/hr…

Train Journeys and I have a history. And we embrace each other like two people who’ve known each other a long time.The first train trip I distinctly remember, was a Delhi – Jammu trip on the Jammu Tawi Express. I remember the family, suitcases, trunks, bags, food and all, occupying some 15 berths.The beginning of summer, meant vacations, and short trips around Delhi with the entire lot of Masis and Mamas and cousins. A lot of planning went into these trips, and everyone had their work cut out.

All the families would assemble at a designated home. The ladies would get together and plan for all the meals to be had in the train. There would be recipes to be shared and food to be cooked to last the entire journey without getting spoilt, and messy and and to appeal to us kids. The gents of the house would have all logistics to take care of. The tickets, the taxis, and the ensuring that the luggage and the crowd was moved from one city to another without too much confusion. Us kids were incharge of planning the entertainment. Ofcourse the youngest of us were an entertainment in themselves! There would be card games, and Ludo, and Antakshari and Dumb Charades. A/C compartments were not heard of so much and we travelled Sleeper class and despite getting off the train, dusty and untidy and aching for a bath, we’d feel like the best part of the trip had ended.

Then there were trips to Manmad, in Maharashtra, near Shirdi, where we’d all sit up to take note of the “Thumb’s Up” mountain. We’d make a hundred pacts with God on board the train to Shirdi, and the “Thumbs Up” mountain, nearing Shirdi, would feel like the God had said “I agree”, or “Good Luck” and we’d feel like all our pacts had been fulfilled.

On train trips in the college times, we travelled in hordes. The Trains were privy to secrets though our crushes, the hot pair in college, our dreams… all spoken in hushed whispers to the best of friends.

I’ve come a long way since that time, and now flights are more the norm than trains. But even now, the occasional train journey stirs up the memories of my life as it has been till now.

In that girl on the first berth, I see myself, at 6, tumbling down the upper berth behind Mummy scared that she would leave without me. Round the corner on Berth 15, I see a painfully shy 12 year old, at the threshold of her teens, playing with her brothers and sisters, wanting attention but shirking from it too 🙂

This rebellious teenager, sitting right next to me is going away to boarding school, where she will learn the most beautiful lessons of her life, about trust and camaraderie, and friendship, and though she sits sulking with her ipod plugged in, staring resolutely out of the window, I can see the stars of a bright tommorrow reflecting in her eyes.

Oh and that college gang at the end of the corridor… well, that was where I was some years back, talking of love, and dreams, and singing shared songs.

Seeing this middle aged lady sitting in front of me, I smile… I know what she’s thinking……she too is remembering some part of her life, left in some train.One of many lives… on a speeding train… going to some place without a name.