Mango, the fruit of endless surprise


If at all there is a fruit that can make you madly fall in love with it, it has to be Mango.   Mango, a sage in saffron that has the power to open up the gates of heaven.  

Whenever I gaze at this rich, succulent, plumpy fruit all juicy, oh! I go so weak on my knees.  I had to have it. It needs preparation to enjoy this fruit. You can't just peel and dig in. You hold it, look at the ways it lies on your palm so beautiful.  Then take a bowl or go near the kitchen sink and take a deep bite. The juice will drip all over your jaw, chin, hands and on your shirt. The river of divine pleasure.  Who cares?

This time take a bigger bite and suck the juice. Don't mind the sound (the slurpier the better) or the juice that flows through your palms and races on your arms. Lick it clean and get your attention back to your mango. Turn the Mango, gaze at the untouched half.  Did I hear you calling me messy?  Maybe I am. Where was I? Yeah, turn the fruit, gaze at it and decide from which side you should attack it.  Sink your teeth just the way a predator does to its prey. Only difference is the fruit is a willing prey. It doesn't fight or evade, it is slippery and may tease you a bit but it doesn't fight you back, a temptress that makes you pine for more, a willing prisoner. 

Now you consumed more than half the fruit, you will slowly start to feel the astringent of the skin, you cluck and get back to the rest.  Usually you won't stop till you gobble up the skin, pulp and left with the seed that now have hairy fires sticking out.  Like a wet cat with bristles sticking out?  No! Mangoes are mangoes no comparison. You are done licking everywhere and about to shove the seed off in a dustbin. 

One last time, you turn it sideways and with your teeth tug at the bristles from root and draw out the little pulp that's stuck in between those bristles, repeat the process all over and throw the seed finally.  After washing, gargling and cleaning the mess up, there are those particles,  the fibres that's stuck between your teeth, keeps reminding you about your sinful affair with the ripest fruit. The slight raw skin underneath your lips, makes your tongue to rub it and test the sensitivity and a reminder for the rest of the day about you gorging a fruit sinfully. 

You remind yourself to buy a dozen Mangoes that evening.  Atleast this season, I should have Mangoes 'contently'.  A relative term of course. 

Kids of 70s, 80s and 90s


Through centuries kids has been kids. Born in 70s I had witnessed kids of 80s, 90s and millennium.

Starting with a statutory warning, I am not judging and this post is only an observation from a 70s kid.

70s kids

1. We had company.  When we walk down the street we bumped on friends or bullies. The physical them. For survival we made more friends that led to more enemies, (friend's enemies ours too). We took sides, we made some promises, broke some. We crossed our fingers, when we lied. We ran down the street to welcome grand parents, uncles, aunts, unburdened them of their cloth bags or baskets and carried them, wondering about why the bag was heavy and if any sweets, toffees, or if we're too lucky the multi coloured striped rubber balls resting in a corner of the bag.  We shift restlessly till they go to the loo, wash their face, hands, legs, what not...talking all the time to parents, sipping coffee.  We wait not too patiently like a Stork. And when they call your name, you run and stand next to them.  They will remove things one by one and finally hand us a newspaper wrap, that may have some candies or pull the much awaited ball out. We rush out to show the ball eagerly to our friends and they all stretch their hands to receive the ball to admire.   In less than a minute they will start throwing the ball and you go behind them shouting not to and slowly the hours stretch as we play. By night you hijack the torn ball home in the well worn half pant pocket.

2.  With a spring, we were ready to walk any distance.  We just needed a reason to be outdoors and going to nearby chettiar kadai to get 200 grams mustard and 1/4 kg sugar for a 10 paise commission was enough incentive. The ultimate luxury being hiring (h)our cycle and trying to manage the huge bicycle with Monkey pedal. The parents didn't put curfew for their children to play outside, there were kidnappers, murderers, rapists, psychos lurking but it never stopped us from roaming around. Parents asked the children to be careful but they didn't try to instill fear in them.  The children were bold, independent.  All children read together, there were no special schools, we never knew terms like hyperactive, attention deficit etc. There were only three types, intelligent, mediocre, dumb.

3.  If you caught cold, you weren't rushed to hospitals.  There were only 4 vaccines small pox vaccination, DPT, BCG, polio drops.  Once in a year medical checkup in school, the doctor will do eye test just by examining our eyes with torch, check if you have vaccine marks, you were made to remove the uniforms and made to stand with shimmies (shifts) as we used to call then. Boys were checked in different rooms most of them bare chested clutching at their half pants, some of the boys who forget to wear their briefs, their face transparent and their fear  evident, "what if?" I remember there was this element of fear, excitement around.  Flu and malaria was common and we in general used to feel jealous of kids who get typhoid.  Typhoid somehow was looked at as a posh word and taking 15 days leave was really a boon.  The most feared disease was Diphtheria.

4. Ponds or Gokul sandal talcum and in summer days Nycil was the only cosmetics we knew of.  Our hairs parted and combed with oil, our talcum coated faces smeared along with the oil was a common scene.  A lifebuoy soap cut into two pieces lasted almost a month.  We all sang loud while taking bath, our voices gurgling with water poured by a mug, was enchanting.

5.  We never bothered to wash fruits, we brush it on our skirts or trousers and take a bite and offer to
friends, they turn it the other side and take a bite.  Somewhere it all get mixed up.  Moms kept sugar, jaggery on the loft, but we try to take it during noon when they sleep and though we are careful to place it exactly as we took, the CB CID mothers when they wake up, they will turn and ask, "Who opened the sugar dabba?" And we wonder how they knew?

6. When once in 6 months or so visit your native village, eager to meet friends whom you made during past summers, hijacking some gifts some broken toys, withered balls, an old shirt of yours or a broken steel torch light, pencils and feel the happiness spread inside you, when their faces beam with joy.  It is also quite normal, the next day you fight with them and ask the gifts back.  You fight, you make it up.  You walk in the paddy field holding a bunch of leaves like actress Sridevi and try to rehearse the sway of hips and sing, "sendhurapoovae sendhurapoovae, jillendra kaatrae en mannan engae en mannan engae nee konjam sollayo?".  Taking bath in the pump set with cousins and shyly watch if your boy watches you.  The boy who shows attention is Kamal Haasan to your eyes and Nambiar to the other boys.

Years moves on.... You step into 80s...

To be continued









Dreamy delights


Art by Vidya Chinnappa


Just like any other day, I couldn't sleep and just like any other day, I was reading, watching a Turkish classic serial.  The grandeur, harem, numerous concubines plotting against each other, killing some, saving some... The majestic palaces, not to forget the most handsome Padishah, his pale green eyes lush as a meadow on a spring gay day, freezing and turbulent on an outdoorsy, angry day... I was so much in love with this Padishah, just like Hurrem Sultanum.  I wouldn't hesitate to poison any woman who gets closer to him. You could say I am in love with this Padishah who lived centuries back.."The magnificent century". Who am I kidding? A man who had a harem full of women, who were prepared for him everyday. Looks like he had so much energy.  Hurrem sultanum who only had two jobs, 1) plotting death on whoever tried to enter his majesty's chamber 2) Announcing "I am pregnant".  While I hated myself watching such a serial, it intrigued me as well.  I got addicted to Turkish. The sing song language.  Started to pick words in Turkish.  No. It's not a romantic serial, it's full of unsolved murder mysteries.

It was 3 AM already and I still couldn't sleep .  The wretched cough, not only affected me, it woke the whole neighborhood and I downed some Benadryl hoping for remedy, if not for cough, at least for my insomnia.


Art by Vidya Chinappa

I can't even imagine, how I gathered courage to sit on that battered airplane that rattled it's way on the runway.  No glass windows. The windows were open.  The wind hit heavily and my ears buzzed with the force of wind and I had to keep my teeth pressed fearing a breathing difficulty.  The plane did take off.  I could see the crowded suburbs below me.  Several feet below.  The familiar weight hovering over my insides; the fear of heights.  I removed my glasses, the way we used to when we ride a roller coaster.  The air was getting colder.  Wished I had a wrap.  Jaws froze. When I believed I will break into two,  the airplane hicupped, stopped for a second, plunged down.  There were no screams, no warning from pilot, no air hostesses, no stewards, just me, not defying gravity accepting without choice.  There was a 'thud', the pilot maneuvered the plane on a terrace of the battered house.  I opened the door struggling, trying to feel my legs.  I was standing at the edge of terrace and alas! my head started to swim.  The woman in navy blue cotton sari (corporation uniform), pulled me back. I stared at her as she brushed me off, called out to the boys on the road with a nod. I stared. I shook myself when I realized the woman was talking to me. She was saying something about makeshift runway. Uh! Runway? She asked me to remove the grills that served as parapet wall of the terrace. Like an automaton, I tried shaking the grill hard and it loosened and I managed to remove one. Slowly I started to remove the rusted grills with bare hands.  I watched from the cloud above, watching me working, the woman commanding all the while wondering who that woman was, her tone quite colloquial.  She pried the driver seat open, hopped inside and started the plane to check if it still worked and the sound of engine, made her nod with satisfaction, she hopped back down. She made the boys fetch cardboard boxes, the grills, the cartons from a godown and arranged them to connect to the next house roof.  The street lights were used as pillars to support the make shift runway. She kept shouting we just got 10 more minutes.  She threw an oil container to a boy and asked him to get petrol, "just incase", I heard her say.  "OK", she called out. "Get in", she said to me and I nodded and got in.  She hopped into her seat again and started the engine, it spluttered but started. With a loud cheer from the kids, the airplane lifted like a chopper, not even using the make shift runway.  The glasses slowly raised itself to close the window, the not so distinct hum, the air hostesses started helping the passengers, a stylish English accent of a woman announcing the altitude, temperature outside while the seat belt warning lit up.  I reached for the seat belt, my rusty hands the only reminder that it wasn't a dream, as I looked at the fluffy clouds and distant lights announcing the arrival of the destination *indistinct murmur*. I turned to look at the European guy sitting at the aisle seat. I smiled trying to fish for a paper towel to clean my rusty hands if in case I land in London Heathrow... I couldn't feel my hands.  My brain stuffed with layers and layers of wool. I tried to peel one layer after other.  The continuous nag of that ringing.

I woke up, looked for my hand bag, my eyes falling on my phone, alarm ringing. 


Happy Birthday, Akka!



There are times when you are in a haste, slip to mention important people in your life, who made an impact.

Life has to be celebrated, when it deserves celebration.  To be mourned, when it deserves mourning.

It was on 2nd September, 1994, I stepped in to my husband's home for the first time.  A new bride, stepping with lots of love, hope, expectations, fear.  I was that.  The first one and half month was heaven, life went peaceful for all of us.  Later it was a tough period for all of us, with my mother in law's hospitalization and passing away.

For any bride in India, this can be considered an ill omen.   She can be taunted, troubled with remarks that can hurt for the life time.  Yes! there were couple of such remarks that did hit the mark then.  But, today when I look at it, I don't think those comments were meant to hurt me.  It was their loss of a dear one, passing away without much warning.  Even these trivial remarks were wiped away by my immediate family... i.e. my husband and two sisters.  They protected me, were by my side and made sure that I was safeguarded from the wags of tongue, till it was safe enough to venture out.



The small family that consisted of two sisters, my husband and me (Sucheeth, Supriya were kids.  Balaji, Rupal and Arvind were born and getting ready to enter our family.. Anirudh, Akshaya, Hiyaa yet to make their presence felt in this world :D).  Losing their father barely a year back didn't make this loss easy for them.  But,  the love they showered on me without any reservations is what I can always remember easily even after 22 years of my married life.

So, about this birthday girl.  What is so special about her?  Hemalatha the 24x7 sweet smiling woman, with a spirit that matches the infants.  Enthusiastic, always game for challenges, fighting them all and what more! Winning every one of these challenges.

The hospitality I always received at her home,  I doubt I can ever match her in the way she fed us,rather plied us with sweets, food, juices, savories.  By god, we always leave her home as if we were about to burst in our seams.

Hemalatha akka for me:

an optimist; a vibrant woman with loads of smile
a great intellect, who can carry conversations effortlessly even if it is PM of India.
an arts lover
a sport lover
someone who never shies of competition infact thrives on them.
a woman with great sense of humour; infact I love the harmless sarcasm in it.
someone blessed with a great voice, be it singing or reading news in AIR.
A mother hen for all of us, as I mentioned early, very protective and her love for everyone of us without any reservations is really astounding.

I could have neglected the fourth paragraph, on this auspicious day but for me it's all about people sticking by your side during tough times and not just during happy times.  It is not just Hemalatha akka, it's the family Deepa my other sister and my husband Suresh.  It's not too easy, to lose their mom, it was time for them to mourn but they sheltered me is something that made me love this family, with all my heart.  I may not be the person to express my love in words.  I always write about feelings and very rare I write about people.  But,  I wanted to today.  You might be sitting in a cabin at your office, far away akka, but I want you to know that you are here in all our hearts.

I would like to wish you a very happy Birthday, in my own way and my own style. A small poetry for you.

When monotony turns life in to boredom,
You looked at ways to celebrate the life,
Finding joy in simplest things,
Finding joy in multitudes and sharing them.

It's not easy, to smile always,
But, your name brings only your smiles to our minds..
People change, but you remain, the usual self.
The energy you absorb from, you give us back in multitudes.

Life has a knack to throw a curve at you,
You are equipped to handle it without a sway.
Taking a stride, that threatens some
The stride, that protects some..

I admire the way you live your life,
A world that you created for you and for us all..
Where you lead, love and cherish
A clan that your fiercely guard.

Happy Birthday, Super woman! May god bless you and all of us! Have a beautiful day and a successful year ahead!

Shadows


I waited for the world to slip by me,
Unnoticed I wanted to let things free,
Inside a black and white world,
I would like to spend my days,
With no great joy or regret that I fear...

Under the tall dark trees, I would take a stroll,
Talking to my shadow, that doesn't speak at all...
I would walk, talk and walk some more,
Until I drop, tired and stop eating at my soul.

The bright white shell at the shore,
I picked, admired but decided to throw.
The waves fierce and loud,
Refusing! threw her back with force ..
She lay on the wet sands gleaming,
Waiting for a wayward wave to take her in...

My shadows grew before me,
Another long dark night unveiled free,
I lay down wishing for oblivion,
Where I could vanish and remain hidden...
The moon beam, reached out to unveil me,
I rushed, retraced and hid inside my shadows,
Waited for the world to slip by me,
Unnoticed I wanted to let things free,
Inside a black and white world,
I would like to spend my days,
With no great joy or regret that I fear...

Art by Vidya Chinnappa I feel honored Vidhya.  Thank you..  Beautifully expressed.

Expressions


All these years, all those words I spoke if chained, can wrap the world once,
All these years, the love I expressed, if stacked can touch the moon,
All these years, all those dreams of mine, if shot can turn into dozen movies
All these years, the moments of joy, if turned a memoir, another Taj would have born...
All these years,  the tears I shed can become a Diamond, a Diamond tree might have sprung.

A wasted soul


Thousands of lines,
Written several nights,
The meaning in the words lost...
Those vacant verses, forsaken lot,
Strewn around, waiting for a read,
A quick scroll, a hasty read,
A nod at some, finger tracing them
A dream forsaken
A dream forgotten
A dream that continues
For months without interference
The day the dreams are awake,
And find me missing,
A wasted dream woven in a life
By a wasted soul, hoping
For a quick scroll, a hasty read,
A nod at some, your fingers gently tracing them...

Life inching away


There are times I give up,
Days like these,
When I stare and think,
Gazing at the wall,
If I am on the right path at all.
The path I see moves on and on..
It stretches before me like desert sand..
All those dreams, I cherished
Slipping away smooth, banning finish.
There are times I give up,
Days like these,
When I stare and think,
Gazing at the wall,
silently cursing the dreams,
I carefully nourished..
Living this life is an end
That continues,
Beyond boredom,
Beyond pain,
Beyond numbness,
Life inching away...
Dreams destroyed beyond repair..
Days like these,
Wishing for optimism,
Fighting boredom,
Fighting obstacles,
To move on,
Till I can postpone...
Another day like today.

Krishna my divine Child



When thunders rumbled without any care 
Lightenings crawled through the sky far,
Rain tore its way merciless
Krishna!  The divine child born to this world...

World will never be the same again,
That dark night , carried the tales of an exquisite child,
Those gracious women of Vrindavan, 
Krishna! The divine child brought in joy to so many lives...

Mystical music flowed through the forest,
Wrapping women in myriad tress,
Magical the Dusk,  when moon shone on the river Yamuna, 
Krishna!  The divine child danced on the head of Kaalinga.

He who stole the drapes of Gopikas, 
Draped Krishnaa during her distress.. 
He who measured the universe in three steps, 
Krishna!  Oh!  my divine child you took thousands of steps as a messenger.

You the creator of this universe, 
Yet you stole butter and got tied as Dhamodara.. 
Krishna!  My divine child with two mothers, 
You were still greedy and breast fed happily from Bhutana.

Happy 48th wedding anniversary appa and amma


Dear Appa and Amma,

It's your 48th anniversary of your marriage.  You are married for 17,520 days or 420,480 hours or 25,228,800 minutes which is over 1,513 million seconds!  You had witnessed 12 leap years together.

God!  I am loving this statistics,  I feel like taking off from work and get more data.

Did you know you were married on a Friday the 12th? Thank God not a day later.

Do you know,  September 12th is Day of Conception in Russia and the government give couples time off from work to procreate and produce the next generation?  The couple who have a child on June 12th are handsomely rewarded.

Did you have the time to notice the happenings in India during 1969?

Indian national congress split into two factions. One led by Indira Gandhi and another led by Morarji Desai.
Rajdhani Express was introduced in 1969.
14 banks nationalised by Indira Gandhi.
India was close to insolvency in 1969
ISRO was set up in 1969.

Do you know?

By now you have shared about 38,200 meals together which equates to approximately 2 years, 6 months of continuous eating!

I am wondering on how many hours you had spent quarreling.. Or maintain silence? The quarrels or should I call it as tiff were for silliest matters like; appa,  you wanting to cook and Amma refusing to pass on the laddle to you,  claiming you mess the kitchen or use more spices than required or add more salt and it is not good for health....  et al.

You gave us all awesome Diwalis, Pongals, Krishna jayanthis..  The memories you gave us during the festivities will last a life time may be extend for another lifetime or two.

You made our lives beautiful...  When I think about our childhood days,  it's always basked with golden sun shine..  Not once we had been threatened with gloom or stormy days.  As a parent,  I would love my son to feel or experience the same things.

We wish you,  Amma and appa, many more years of wedded bliss and silly tiffs. But,  even those tiffs are full of life and love for us, we secretly smile and enjoy.

Happy wedding anniversary Appa and Amma.

Lots of love from,

Srimathi, Kannan
Srikanth,  Sejal
Aareev and Ani

wisdom comes with experience

At one, I learnt crawling was fun. At forty one, I still feel crawling is fun #blamemykneesnotme