Monday, June 20, 2016

Travails of an Environmental Engineer: THE WISE MEN OF THE TAC

Travails of an Environmental Engineer: THE WISE MEN OF THE TAC: 66. THE WISE MEN OF THE TAC THE PLUMBING CONSULTANT Every new project that comes up in Karnataka, be it a Manufactory, a Residenti...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Time,Time..I have all the time --: Travelling Back In Time : A re- post

Time,Time..I have all the time --: Travelling Back In Time : A re- post: During my younger days, (eons ago, I must admit) I had the great good fortune of traveling and living in several distant parts of India, th...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

'T' for: Travelling Back In Time

                                                                 Travelling Back In Time

During my younger days, I had the good fortune of travelling and living in most places in India, thanks to my father who was in the Army. 
My travelling days started with my father being posted from Mumbai to Lucknow,  I was barely a year old at that time. We lived in a place called Halwasiya Market, Hazrathganj. I remember, we had a roomy apartment in the  3rd floor. The rooms were built like compartments in a train, first was the kitchen, then a hall, and then two bedrooms, and last the bathroom. All the rooms opened to a long fairly large grilled veranda, and the view was the same on the other side too. We were a family of 6, my parents, my two elder sisters and one brother, I was the youngest. We also had lots pups and kittens roaming around the house for my father loved to bring stray pups and kittens. You can read about their adventures here:

As grew up, I was put in a nearby convent school called   "The Cathedral". My school days very pretty boring, always dreading the arrival of my class teacher, Miss Williams, whom my mother and myself nick named as Miss Pulliams, (Pulli means Tiger in Tamil) for  she would pounce on us the minute, she saw us and start complaining to my poor mother how hopeless I was in my studies. 
My mother would come everyday around 12 pm with my lunch of Rasam mixed with rice and some vegetable curry. She would feed me, and I would make such a fuss saying everything was so hot with lots of chilies, and she used to somehow cajole me into finishing every bit saying it was not hot at all, as she had put lots ghee/ clarified butter, and that it was very tasty. if that didn't work she would say to eat fast as she could see Miss Pulliams coming our way.
I can never forget the aroma of my mother's rasam, it used to be really tasty, for I can still taste in my imagination, and  when at times I get the same taste coming from the rasam I make, I am absolutely thrilled.
Coming back to my story, after  lunch,  I would not want to go to the student's washroom, as it always had a nasty stink like all school washrooms. So we would quietly sneak into the staff wash room and finish washing quickly before we were caught.
After school again, my mother would come to take me home, and as soon as we entered our building, which  used to be full of shops on the ground floor, I would start pestering her to buy me a small Cadburys chocolate, before we started to climb the stairs leading to our flat. Everyday, the same scene repeated itself. 
In the evening my 2nd sister used to go to learn Bharatnatyam dance, and I also wanted to learn, so also went along with her. But after a few classes I refused to go, for I used to dance very badly and the dance teacher used to hit me with the stick every time I made a mistake. It was horrible.
During the evenings my father would take me out with him, for he wanted my mother to be free, while she cooked for the night  without my constant irritation. But I used to be afraid of my dad for he used to be quite strict. Somehow he would persuade me, saying he would buy me ice cream and take me to his friend's place where I can play with his kids.
He would  take me to the  nearby Mayfair theater, which used to have a very good ice cream parlor, and buy me a big plate of ice cream. Oh God, how I used to love eating  ice creams there, for on a big slab of  ice cream there would always be 2 artistically placed wafer biscuits, and I still  can't say whether I liked the wafer biscuits more or the ice cream more.
Then one day he took me to a photo studio, and the photographer was a Sardarji, (a Sikh) he was known to my father, and would often tell my father that I was so cute, (for I looked a lot like the famous child artist/ actor Daisy Irani), that he would like to take a photograph of me, So one day he took me to his studio dressed in a lovely orange color pant and a printed shirt, with a colorful umbrella, for it was supposed to be color photograph.

The good Sardarji  kept on asking me gently to smile, but I would not smile, for his tall, hefty figure with beard and moustache, and turban really frightened me, I could barely stand still leave alone smile. Anyway he somehow made me stand on a bench with my colorful umbrella and took the photograph which came out quite well, and for many years this framed picture of mine was there in our house, till one fine day it just vanished, never to be found. I somehow suspect, it was taken by my second sister, and it must be with her in Boston where  she lives. I just have a copy of it a: small black and white passport size picture.

I must tell about my school play, where you would be shocked that only role that was given to me was to sit like a shrub of  flowers. No Little Red Riding Wood dialogue for me, not even the bad wolf role, I was told to bring some flowered saree, which was wrapped round me , and I had to sit still and be a part of the jungle shrubs. So much for my acting talent, and my looking like the child star, Daisy Irani...

I must say, I had lots  and lots of the  yummy cold drink called "Milk Badam" (Cold Almond Milk), the taste of which still lingers in my tongue, however, I am yet to taste a drink, that can bring back the same magic. I also loved drinking ice cold Coca Colas and Fantas, from glass bottles. Somehow it doesn't taste the same these days. In fact, I stopped drinking  drink these long back.
Oh, the good old days will they ever come back?
Well this all I can remember of my stay in Lucknow.
From there we had to move  to Assam, can you imagine travelling all the way from Lucknow to  Guwahati, by train, it is a very, very, long journey, with so many states to pass through, and so many trains to change.... well some other time I would blog about it.

 Did you enjoy the travel back in time with me?

Saturday, May 7, 2016

My Mother And Me: A Few Thoughts on Mother's day

After a long time, I feel drawn to write something about my mother. It is not that I think of her only  on this day, in fact I always keep thinking of her.
I thought I would share with you some random thoughts about my relationship with my mother.
I remember, when I was very young, I must have just joined school, and my mother used to take me to the school which was just next door, a convent school called "The Cathedral" in Lucknow. You might wonder, how I can remember things that happened while I was so young, I just don't know,  but I can remember all those things very clearly even at this age.
As I started school, I soon realized I was pretty dumb, and a very slow learner, I just couldn't understand anything that was taught in the class. I was weak in everything. every time, my mother came to pick me up, the class teacher would complain to her about my inability to stay focused in the class. It would really upset my mother very much, though she would try her best in the house to make me understand. Sometimes she would get so frustrated that when I missed some number while counting, she would poke the tip of the pencil on my fingers making me understand how to count correctly. My father was known to be more strict, so  seeking his help was out of question. My mother was always very patient, but somehow with a child who cannot understand the basics, she was bound to be  irritated. I have no complaints against her, it is just so funny when I think about it now, for her poking my fingers with the pencil point used to hurt me so much, that it would bring tears to my eyes, and  I would wish that I could be smart as the other kids of my class.
So, everyday since, the class teacher would have something or other to complain about me, my mother started to avoid getting caught by her. The class teacher's name was Miss Williams, and both of us changed her name into Pulliams (Pulli means tiger  in Tamil, and just for rhyming purpose we used to call her Pulliams).
My mother would bring lunch to the school, and we would play hide and seek with Miss Pulliams.
I was a real problem child, in other ways too, troubling my mother, making a big fuss about eating too. Poor thing she would bring tasty Rasam rice with a very tasty potato curry, but would have me making a fuss about it being very hot and spicy, she would cajole me into eating saying she has put lots ghee, and the potatoes were roasted very well and had no chilli powder  in them, and if everything else failed she would threaten me, saying she could see Miss Pulliams coming  our way, and that would be enough for me to swallow everything  in one go.
Then , there was the problem of using the School toilet meant for students which would always be stinking, and I would not like to go there at any cost. So my mother had to smuggle me somehow to the staff bathroom, without being caught by any of the staff. So much trouble my mother had to go through for such a worth less child.

Then came the tantrums while going back home. We used to live in a flat on the third floor, and I
would create a big drama saying that I cannot climb so many steps, unless she bought me a slab of Cadbury's chocolate (it used to be the thin slab) from the shop that was just next  to the staircase.
I don't think I would have done all these for my own children.

I used to get whooping cough a lot during that time, especially during the night, and my poor mother would be awake trying to comfort me all through the night, and on top of  it  I had the habit of sleeping with my fingers holding one of her ears tightly.

As we grew up, we always confided everything to our mother, for she would keep everything from our strict father. She did so many things for us without complaining, whereas, we were so engrossed with our own lives, we never thought of asking her what she wanted, or what we could do for her  to make her life a little more bearable.

Mothers stand for unconditional love, they don't remember the troubles they had gone through to make our lives comfortable, they are happy if we are happy.
Can we say for ourselves,whether we have been good mothers, I doubt so.
They did not have the facilities we have these days, yet they were so patient and tried to be the best mothers. Today, we have all the facilities, yet when it come to dealing with  our children  in a matured way, we find ourselves failing.
Today we tend to be more self centered, not that every mother is like that, but most of us tend to be like that only.
 I salute all the mothers who understand their children and do their very best to not only be good mothers but also be good friends with their children!!
Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Good Old Days

Now a days, very often I think about the kind of life we had when we were very young. We never bothered about anything, we ate when we felt hungry, we were always playing something or other with friends / cousins, we were either cycling madly under the hot sun, without getting heat stroke, never slept in the afternoons, read books like Enid Blyton, Amar Chithra Katha, Phantom and so on.
Life was pretty carefree, with no worries, no tension. How simple life was then.

In the whole lane maybe about 1 or 2 houses may have had a fridge, and maybe only one house might have had an AC and a car. We would be awestruck when we saw such houses which had one or more  of these luxury items. However, people in those days were very informal and friendly, they would give us ice cubes, sometimes home made ice creams, drop us along with their kids to school in their car. In the afternoons, all the mothers would finish their work and meet and learn something new from each other, like cross stitching, embroidery, knitting, making papads together: they had ample time to do all this despite not having any domestic  help in the house.

Never, have we ever imagined that a time would come when we would not be able to live in houses without attached Bathrooms. For in those days wherever we lived whether  it was a house or a flat there used to be only 1 bathroom for the use of the entire family. Strangely, we never had any problems sharing the one single bathroom.

There was no television, our only source of entertainment was a Radio or a Transistor. We never had surprise tests, or too many home works, no coaching classes after school, no tension for getting into the college of our choice etc.

We never felt tired walking miles to our schools, or walking anywhere. The mode of transport was mainly Rickshaws and Buses, and in some places we could use the Tongas. To even have a scooter was a big thing in those days. When we had summer holidays we would be asked by our friends to come and stay  with them  in their houses, and we would have so much fun, if they lived in a colony where they had such facilities like a big swimming pool and lots of common area  to play cricket, gilli dhanda, etc. Then all the parents would plan a big picnic, where the men would take upon themselves to do the cooking and give the ladies their much needed time to chitchat and generally be relaxed.

There was never a need to phone someone before we visited them, for we were always welcome. Plus who had phone those days. Everything was shared with everybody.
I remember, the winters when all of us would pull out the charpais and sit under the warm sun, eating oranges, playing Ludo, and Antaskhari and so on.
We would go to theatre to watch some good movies, eat Samosas, Wafers, Ice creams and drink Coke, Fanta or Goldspot, have a good time.

I remember during my college days too after our college got over, we would just go to our friends place or they would come to our place and we would be chatting, going out together doing window shopping, eating Muri, Churmur, Bhel Puri, Golgappa, drinking countless numbers of Chai. We were all so slim despite eating everything without any restriction. I think it was because of our walking everywhere, we never felt the need to spend time exercising. We never even heard  or spoke about diet or dieting, and  exercising. We were so healthy.

With the advent of TV, which not everyone could afford those days, we found people who had TV  inviting us to come and watch TV in their homes, where they themselves would have a whole lot of family members and on top of that, we would also be there watching some old Hindi movie with them. The only Channel was Doordarshan. Strangely the practice those days was to watch TV with all the lights off, in total darkness.

How slowly, yet steadily things have changed, and how we have changed accordingly. Now we cannot do with just 1 bathroom, 1 bedroom, 1 TV, 1 Car, 1 Phone. Now we have to call up if we are thinking of visiting somebody, and expect the same from them too. We don't like to share anything with anybody. Today, we are more eager to do the home work/ projects given by the school for our  children to do. We want them to go for this and that coaching classes, we don't even let our tiny tots enjoy their holidays for we want to them to attend some Art class, learn Karate, learn music/ dance or do something. We don't want them to just be themselves and just let them enjoy their holidays the way they want to. We want to control every phase of their lives, what they should study, where they should work etc.

We don't eat together, as each one has their own time, and their own way  of eating. We don't like entertaining guests, we just feel obliged to do so, for we have our own  routine to which we have got used to, and we don't have that kind of time.
I am not saying all of us are like this, but most of us are generally like this, even though we might not really want to be like this.

Times have changed and I feel we have also changed, and change is always good. Fifteen years back even I used to walk everywhere, because the roads were good,  it was not so hot and dusty, but now a days it is impossible to walk, what with the heat, dust, and the bad roads with no foot paths, and the heavy traffic where you find two wheelers riding on whatever little bit of the foot path that is left, not caring for the pedestrians: we are all literally living in hell!

Good old days are just memories, meant to be cherished for what they were, one should not expect  the present to be just like the past.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Beat the Heat: have a Piña colada

Piña colada
The piña colada is a cocktail made with rum, coconut cream or coconut milk, and pineapple juice, usually served either blended or shaken with ice. It may be garnished with either a pineapple wedge, a maraschino cherry, or slices of coconut .

Main alcohol: White Rum
Ingredients: 3 oz (3 parts) Pineapple juice, 1 oz (one part) White rum, 1 oz (one part) Coconut cream

Preparation: Mix with crushed ice until smooth. Pour into chilled glass, garnish and serve.
Served: Blended with ice (frozen style)
Standard garnish: Maraschino cherry, Coconut slices, Pineapple slices.
Made with freshly made Pineapple Juice, fresh Pineapple wedges

Place: Lush Green & Cool Surroundings of our house

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sorga Vasal- Doors of Heaven

Dad, even a fleeting memory of your loving smile is enough to light up my darkest days. I love you. Dad quotes

It has been months since I wrote anything. And I have not even been visiting other bloggers.
Somehow, I could not do both these things, and I have no excuse, other than being very lazy.
Maybe, it was a writer's block, I don't know. I am sure we all go through this phase sometime or other in our lives.

On December 26th 2015, my father was finally released from this world. He passed away without much struggle.

Before he passed away, he had his wish fulfilled: that is visiting his home town Srirangam for the Vaikuntha Ekadasi, which is very auspicious for all Tamil Brahmins. He has been visiting his home town ever year for this festival. My brother made arrangements to take him by Taxi and also stay in his ancestral home there. My father was very happy, and was extremely talkative with all his near and dear ones who came to visit him. He could not place any of them very clearly, but he was vaguely aware of some of the events in their lives and was happily recounting them. He stayed in Srirangam for about 5 days, and kept telling to my brother, that he would die within a week or so.

When the day came for them to leave for Madras, he became very adamant and would not leave his house, holding on tightly to the railing of the staircase. With great difficulty, my brother had to carry him to the waiting taxi to go back home.

When he arrived in Madras, there too he created a big drama saying he will not climb up to the house holding with iron grip the gate of the house. However, he was finally carried upstairs. Dealing with Dementia patient can be very, very tough, and we must give full marks to my brother and his wife for bearing everything .

21st December 2015 was Vaikuntha Ekadasi and my father was there in Srirangam by 18th December. They were there till the 23rd December.
The significance of Vaikuntha Ekadasi:

There are 24 Ekadasis observed by Hindus during the year. Of these Vaikunda Ekadasi celebrated in the Tamil month Margazhi (Dec-Jan) is considered very auspicious. On this day people accompany the Lord to the doors of Heaven (SorgaVasal, Sorgam - Heaven/Vasal - Doors). In all temples the Sorgavasal will remain opened on this day. People remain awake the previous night and go to the temple early in the morning to enter the Sorgavasal. People take up fasting on this day for all their wishes to come true. It is believed that one who worships Lord Vishnu on this day will reach Vaikunta (Heaven). This festival is of great significance at all Balaji Temples especially at Tirupati and also at  Srirangam.

 We all feel so happy that the wish of our father finally got fulfilled, even though he did not die there, still he had the good fortune of being there at that auspicious moment, and just as he had predicted he left this world within a week. I believe only very good people are taken away by God in this manner.

My chithi (my mother's younger sister), too had a very dramatic and good death many years ago on this Ekadasi day. She was absolutely normal on that day and had gone with her daughter in law to visit the famous Parthasarthy temple in Triplicane Madras, and after darshan, she suddenly felt very uneasy, and just dropped dead right there (silent heart attack).
 Back to our father. 
On the 26th morning he seemed very normal, had his morning tea, and since he doesn't take breakfast, he was about to have his lunch as usual at around 10 am. However on that day he told my brother that he was not hungry, but my brother persuaded him to at least have some curd rice. While my brother went to bring  it to him, he suddenly heard my father wheezing very violently. He was shocked for our father never had any kind of wheezing problems, he suddenly was not able to breathe properly also. My  brother immediately took him to a big hospital which is just 2 minutes from our house, and there the doctors tried giving him Oxygen, but our father was in no position to take it also. They tried their level best, but he kept on struggling to breathe and finally had an heart attack and died there within minutes.

To think it was the same hospital, where our father had taken our mother to get her treated for her chronic knee pain, and had to see her get a massive heart attack without any warning.
Our father's death although was sad, we still feel, he was finally free, which is what people of his age (94 years) yearn for. And also in his condition, death was welcome.

  He would always say in his dementia affected state, that he could see people coming and eating after his death, the house is full of relatives and friends, the priests doing the puja for his safe passage from this earth and so on... that amma (our mother) is waiting for him.....
We are sure that wherever he is,  he is safe and peaceful with his creator: he has passed through the "Sorga Vasal".

Your life has ended, but your legacy of wisdom, integrity and courage will go on forever. We miss you Appa.