Music on the move


Of all my childhood memories, our Saturday routine has perhaps left the biggest imprint. Every Saturday, we went to the Vinayak Temple and the adjoining market at Sarojini Nagar.

Appa drove his old Premier Padmini – we used to call it the Fiat – on the near empty roads. The FM radio in the car was always set to All India Radio 102.6 MHz – that was the only station back then. It was our only source of contemporary music, and it was all we needed. We would sing along in loud voices to distorted lyrics that our ears chose to hear.

Years later, the Fiat was scraped. Our Saturday visits continued – with a new in-car radio for company. We retained the Fiat’s radio system.

Apart from the controls on her face, there was little to cover the body of that radio, save a raw metal exterior and lots of wires hanging loose. Anna rigged her up with a set of small speakers and connected it to a plug.

Some years later, we relocated. For a while we continued to visit Sarojini Nagar. But that trip was long and tiring and we began visiting a different temple nearer to our new house. The old car radio, though, was still going strong at home. She became my faithful companion while I prepared for my final school exams, and subconsciously memorized lyrics of John Denver’s songs… I hear her voice in the morning hour as she called me.

I went to college and got my first feature phone – one with an FM radio. Over the next several years, more sophisticated phones followed. And today, my smartphone has replaced the need for a radio altogether.

I don’t know what happened to that car radio system. Maybe it was given away, maybe scraped, but certainly it is in a very different shape right now as compared to what she was back then – just like everything else from my childhood:

Many shops we visited in Sarojini Nagar have shut down or changed their line of business. The market is no longer our weekly grocery and vegetable market. The roads leading to it are choked, and the mad rush ensures we keep our distance.

All India Radio is not the only radio station in town. It is surviving, but their best RJs have moved on to private stations and even internet radios – including the one I’m listening to right now. 

As the internet channel plays a classic, all my memories gather round her… 

And John Denver echoes the sentiment

Radio reminds me of my home far away


In response to this week’s Photo Challenge. To see what the world is feeling nostalgic about, visit the Daily Post.

She looked something like this

Rain Dance


One of the jokes we’ve been cracking about Gurgaon for many years, is that just pouring a glass of water on the road is enough to cause a traffic snarl. So when the clouds above rained down, it came as no surprise that the city of Gurgaon virtually came to a standstill. With vehicles stuck in jams for well over 12 hours, walking seemed to be the only way to go anywhere.

Walk…

Or rather, with half-covered drains overflowing well on to the main road, we had to…

Jump over puddles
Climb over fences
Swing around car mirrors
Limbo under branches
Crawl sideways on narrow high ground
And when someone came splashing water
Quickly turn around!

…no, in the middle of the main road, we were not walking, we weren’t wading, and we weren’t weaving… we were dancing!

Drops of water streaming down narrow channels of a Spider Lily

To see what the blogosphere is picturising, narrow your focus on to the Weekly Photo Challenge

If winter is here…


Delhi’s winters used to be chilly*, with icy weather in the peak season of mid December to mid January. But over the past few years, the winter season has become shorter and shorter – no thanks to global warming. This year was a huge disappointment. The New Year was exceptionally warm with many people giving woollens a pass.

The harvest festivals (Lohri/Makar Sankranti/Pongal etc), which usually fall on the 13th-15th of January every year, mark the end of winter and the beginning of Spring. Even as we prepared to celebrate, the lack of a proper winter was a bit sad.

Perhaps the thick air carried our dejection, and precisely one day prior to the ‘official’ beginning of spring, winter finally showed up in full swing. The cold wave has been here for well over two weeks now, and seems in no mood to leave in a hurry!

Meanwhile, the bougainvillea plant in our balcony seems to follow a different calendar altogether. Even as the other plants geared up to brace the winter chill, this plant began flowering for the first time in our home last autumn. Throughout the season, there hasn’t been a single day without a shade of pink amid the grey haze and fog.


On a lazy Sunday morning, I peep out from under the rajaai**. The curtains are only half drawn – there’s no need for them. The fog and frosted glass guarantee privacy. And the sun hasn’t been showing up for work for a few days. I coerce myself to get up, if only to wish my friend. I walk up to the balcony door. It’s all white and grey. A few plants are struggling to keep warm. Most of their leaves have dried and fallen. But one thorny plant stands there defiantly. I step out gingerly and wish her a good morning.

She wishes me in her own way. It’s cold for both of us and she doesn’t mind me going back inside. As I turn around, she smiles knowingly.

If winter is here, can spring be far behind?

bougainvillea
Hope ‘springs’ eternal – even at 5 degrees C!

* No, we don’t have snowfall or blizzards but day time temperatures of 7 degrees C are quite ‘normal’

** a thick blanket, usually stuffed with cotton

For more optimistic pictures, gather around the cozy fireplace of The Daily Post.

Homecoming


The shrines at every street turning.
The fifty square feet kolams.
It looks beautiful.

The yelai sappaadu and the million varieties of everything.
The nongu and manga inji.
It tastes exotic.

The aroma of freshly ground coffee.
The incense and malligai.
It smells heavenly.

The taalams of the kutcheri audience.
The rustling of the Palm trees.
It sounds familiar.

The waves rushing towards me.
The sea breeze and the sand.
It feels like home.


coconut-eyes

“Do you like Delhi or Chennai?” My cousin’s grandfather asked me in a soft childlike voice.

“Both!” I replied.

“No, no, no. I won’t accept that. You have to choose!”

“That’s like asking a child to pick a parent!” I protested.

“Of course! And you must pick one” he replied with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

“Well, I prefer Delhi. But Chennai comes a very very close second.”

He smiled. It was impossible to tell if he was happy with my answer or not.

No matter where you are, or¬†where you’re headed, wishing you a year in the company of friends and family.

As for us, we spent the New Year in both cities ūüôā


Glossary

yelai sappaadu/ilai sappadu: literally, food on a leaf. A traditional platter typically served on a plantain leaf. For a more humorous explanation, check out this video.

nongu: Asian palmyra palm, toddy palm, or sugar palm (in science: Borassus flabellifer)

manga inji: literally, mango ginger.  A variety of ginger that tastes like raw mango (in science: Curcuma amada)

malligai: Jasmine. Ladies adorn their hair with garlands made of Jasmine

taalam: beats of a musical composition

kutcheri: musical performance, typically used with reference to Carnatic classical music. Audiences across Tamil Nadu can often be seen tapping their hands to the rhythm of the musical piece.

On top of the world


You must see this old bungalow, before I leave. There’s also a beautiful park nearby. You’ll love it!

The rooms of the old bungalow were given out on rent to college students, and we had a chance to see the room occupied by my cousin and a few other girls.

On the wall next to one of the beds was a post-it note with the words ‘Veni Vedi Vici’
veni_vedi_vici

* * *

At the beginning of this month, I took up a challenge – to post something every single day of November. It’s what they call NaBloPoMo. A blogging friend wrote several¬†inspiring posts and a fellow blogger¬†whom I hadn’t known at the time gave me the courage to participate. But I did not believe I would be able to successfully complete it, and so I never registered for the Official Blogroll.

To motivate myself, I began drafting the last post of the month – celebrating my achievement. This note, an affirmation of conquest before really conquering, seemed most appropriate.

Today is the 30th consecutive day of blogging. The past month has been a fascinating creative experiment Рcompleting long forgotten drafts and reliving stories from my childhood; recalling random conversations and writing poetry about mundane events. When the words dried up, I dug into reserves of virtual archives and pictures from travels. All of my posts were published on late nights. And I almost never knew what I was going to write till the moment I began typing. Even when I returned home late from work, despite the heavy eyes, I made it a point to write.

And tonight, I can say with pride, I have succeeded.

* * *

‘Veni Vedi Vici’

I never met the girl who wrote that note, but I imagine she has big dreams. She has come to the biggest city of the country. She’s most definitely seen many days here. And making it through her graduation may well be the beginning of her conquests.

I’m guessing the girl has no idea that I snapped a picture of her note-to-self. If you are that girl, I hope you have made many a conquest.

* * *

Even with weary eyes, the view from the top is beautiful.

view_from_the_top
The view from Dadhikar fort Рthe mist rising and dissolving above the shallow valleys

“Veni, vidi, vici” is a Latin phrase popularly attributed to Julius Caesar, who supposedly used the phrase in a letter to the Roman Senate around 46 BC after he had achieved a quick victory in his short war against Pharnaces II of Pontus at the Battle of Zela. The phrase translates to ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’


And now it’s time for a short break!

Many many thanks to all the wonderful people who have been a part of this journey, for reading, liking and commenting. I’ll see you soon!

The mason is also an artist


“A friend of mine married her driver… Hey! What’s wrong with that? Drivers are humans too!”

Indians, in general seem to segregate people into two categories. Those in desk and white collar jobs are considered elite. Labour and blue collar is somehow substandard. And people are given very low wages for performing these tasks.

Professionals and consultants bill their clients by the thousands for every hour. Why can’t skilled workers also be called professionals?

The other day, a mason who was fixing a crack on our wall said, “I believe in doing a good job. If you are satisfied with the quality of my work, you are likely to recommend my services to others.”

This mason took pride in his job. He didn’t go to a business school to learn about customer satisfaction and the difference between good marketing and cold selling. His charges were slightly higher than ‘normal’. We didn’t negotiate – much. After all, why shouldn’t he be allowed to?

I am certain that there is scope for individuals to charge a premium for a job well done. In other countries, a construction worker can lead a decent life — and by decent, I mean socially, not just financially. Isn’t it time we start imbibing those values in our society?


nanopoblano2015lightThis is post #15 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

Doodle Notes


I often find myself scribbling along margins of diaries during meetings. I think that is an indication of boredom, which is not really a good thing. Wikipedia, though, claims otherwise:

… doodling can aid a person’s memory by expending just enough energy to keep one from daydreaming, which demands a lot of the brain’s processing power, as well as from not paying attention. Thus, it acts as a mediator between the spectrum of thinking too much or thinking too little and helps focus on the current situation.

My doodles are usually in the form of lines. The lines are usually placed close together to create a gradient from dark to light (or vice versa). Sometimes they radiate from a central point to look like fireworks in the night sky.

There are certain doodles that take on different shapes and patterns. This one turned out quite interesting, and I hope to recreate it digitally at some point of time.

Doodle on the margin
Doodle on the margin

What about you? Do you doodle? Do you think it’s a good thing? Can you interpret doodles? What does this doodle say to you?


nanopoblano2015lightThis is post #6 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

Thanks a bunch to all the cheering peppers who have been tweeting and liking posts across WordPress ūüôā

WPC: Connected


Earlier we used to write letters on paper. Today, we send instant messages.
Earlier long distance calls were few and far between. Today, it’s cheaper than ever to talk to loved ones.

Earlier media was owned by a few people. While mainstream media is still owned by a few people with vested interests, social sharing and blogging platforms are changing the way we communicate with the outside world.

Today, we no longer just listen, we engage – we connect.

So how do you connect with the outside world?
So how do you connect with the outside world?

To see how bloggers around the world connect with one another and with their environment, be sure to check out the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge – Connected.

A Rainbow of Memories


Colourful diaries
Colourful keepers of memories – Gifts from my mother, aunt, sister, sister-in-law, friend, a complete stranger (and even myself).

The typewriter and keyboards may keep our memories safe in a digital locker. But they will never be able to replace the smell of paper, the crisp look of bound books and the firm grip of a clasp — reassuring a sentimental fool like me, that her priceless emotions are locked safely.

The Daily Post has a guest this week – ROY G. BIV. Head over and say a big hi!

PS. I always fancied that some day I’d be famous and my journals and sketchbooks might become collectibles — maybe even included in an auction. I know it’s unlikely. But a girl can dream ūüôā

Resolutions


I was desperate to get some rest, but sleep was the one thing that refused to come. Random thoughts and visions haunted me, interspersed with summons, as they were, directed towards me — by whom, I don’t know. I tossed and turned in the middle of the night, till I could take it no longer. And then I wrote this.

Resolutions
Resolutions

Read: Know and understand other people’s points of view. Interact often with fellow bloggers and chroniclers of the world.

Write: Share your world view. Even if it is going to be just you who reads it.

Draw: Complete the picture and fill it with colours of your choice.

Sing: Find your own voice and express yourself.

Jump: Make decisions and take that leap of faith.