smittenbyu: (Sketch)
Day 2: In my hand

April photo day 2When I first came to the US for college and landed in Hawai'i, I read somewhere in some guidebook that mango was classified as a poisonous fruit! I was flabbergasted! The king of fruits is poisonous?

Right! Love of mangos and childhood in India are so strongly intertwined! It's something that doesn't differentiate between caste, creed, religion. Doesn't matter if you are a city rat or rural kid, summer meant sucking over juicy mangoes.

Growing up we were surrounded by mango trees by the roadside and also orchards. Living on an institute's grounds, technically we couldn't pick them. If any were found on the ground then that was ok!

There was a tree right at the main intersection our school bus would pass. The teenagers would just stick their arms out of the bus window and see how many they could catch. It was easier apparently than climbing the tree!

Oh and climbing trees we did! I didn't. They did. In our group some would dare to climb the tree. But usually our slippers are sacrificed to break some fresh ripe mangos. Some times the slipper would get caught in the branch. Not willing to bear the brunt of mother's rap, the brave soul would risk being caught by campus security and climb up the tree to salvage his slipper and while he/she's at it grab a few mangoes too!

And we would eat some right there and then. Coming home to a lot of scolding from moms that would be heard everywhere. Some would pick the not ripe ones to eat and often would get bad burns on their lips. I think it's the acid in it? We weren't scared of the health effect on us, we were more scared of being caught red-handed by our mothers!

But it never stopped us from eating mangoes. And you sucked the stone dry! yum! The ripe mangoes were so juicy and succulent, they were eaten by hand, with juices flowing over your hands and all over your shirts. No forks, spoons, or cutlery could interfere in the enjoyment of mango eating. It was the best way to cool off in hot 90-100F summers!

As grown ups, we of course, cut it up a bit, but the fruit around the seed, no fork or spoon will clear it all and no wastage is allowed! glad N found a crate of them brought home! They are so sour that D & I are loving it! N says his hair on his back is standing up! ha! 
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
I have always been sharing how food is a big battle with my daughter. Apparently compared to me at the same ages, she is eating up a ton more! This girl is strong. She can hold on to things if she really wants it and catches people completely by surprise. I on the other hand would fall over if given a little push. ha!

So, anyway, a little walk down memory lane, as I have been thinking of this the last several days and can't stop giggling. I was 3-4 years old at the time. My mom would take naps too or would be doing other errands while I napped. She would leave some fruit on the dining table for me to help myself when I get up.

One afternoon, my mom was in the kitchen and she heard a wail from me from the dining room. She didn't understand why or what had happened. All she heard was, "I am not going to eat! wahhhH!"

Mom was puzzled, she turned around and saw there were TWO whole watermelons on the dining table! She had to spend so much time reassuring me that was not meant for me. And am sure my dad got his head bitten off! :P
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
oh this has to be the best Buzzfeed list so far! Spot on - 60 Things That Defined Your Childhood in India

Each and every item we did! oh what fun!!

Although have to say we never caught #3 around our house! Only tried those at friends' birthday parties. And never a fan of Thumbs Up but a Fanta & Limca fan!! mmm...

I have to say, never tried those "fake" candy cigarettes… see what a good girl I was?! :) 
smittenbyu: (Sketch)
#24: Chidhood book

Do we have to pick one? I posted about this over a year ago. So, copying and pasting from here.

Most of the stories we were told that taught us lessons in life came out of the three epic stories - the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and mostly the Bhagavat Gita and the many historic figures such as Jhansi ki Rani (my favorite heroine growing up), Mahatma Gandhi, King Ashoka, etc. And they were often were told orally by grandparents and granduncles/aunts! This was wonderful when you still lived in extended families. However, by our generations, we were living more in nuclear families and so often would only hear stories during our summer vacations when we would visit our grandparents or they would come visit us!

So, for us, the Amar Chitra Katha was the best thing that could happen to any young Indian kid in those days! I have yet to meet any Indian my age who doesn't oohhh--ahhhh over their series! Just writing this is getting me all excited! OMGEXCITED! I don't even know how to pick a favorite!!

Amar Chitra Katha took the many stories from the three epics and made it into comics and stories that were kid-friendly! We would eagerly wait for every copy that arrived to read from page one to the end and reread them with such great interest! I think though out of all I love Tenali Rama stories - he was such a witty character! His poems were such fun!

The other books was the Panchatantra - that taught various life lessons! My paternal grandmother though was the best storyteller of this!

And of course, our life was not complete without the world of Mandrake the magician, Phantom and other comics - which we read for fun!
smittenbyu: (Default)
Sometime ago [ profile] echomyst had asked in my response to one of her posts, what books I had grown up with that have left an impression on me. As we are looking around for books that a toddler would be interested in, there are so many books that D enjoys. At the same time, I have also been looking for books in Telugu, my mother tongue for her to glance through and grow up with. When I asked my parents/family for some ideas they just drew a blank. 

D now can identify alphabets in the English language. I want her to also pick up the Telugu alphabets and I still am not able to find in book format (there are so many website for it, but we limit computer usage - actually she gets no time at the computer!!) for her to do so. 

They mostly laughed when they caught me reading to D from when she was 2-3 months (well, then it was just reading whatever I wanted to read that I would read aloud). And when she was 5-6 months old, I started bringing books home, since that's what we as good parents are encouraged to do by so many voices of authority. It's to help create an interest in reading, to help develop vocabulary. There's one study after another showing such to be the case. 

It made me look into how my interest in reading developed. We never attended story times at the library. In fact, we didn't even know what a library was. I wonder if there even was one where we grew up. We lived on the campus of my dad's institute. The library there was for big people who understood agricultural science. So, the image of library growing up was also a far-off place that we don't go to! 

But I grew up surrounded in books - none of which I could "read". But I constantly saw my dad reading 3-4 books at a time. I saw my mom reading too and writing poetry, essays as a hobby. It was when I was 4-5 years old when there were books I could read!

Most of the stories we were told that taught us lessons in life came out of the three epic stories - the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and mostly the Bhagavat Gita and the many historic figures such as Jhansi ki Rani (my favorite heroine growing up), Mahatma Gandhi, King Ashoka, etc. And they were often were told orally by grandparents and granduncles/aunts! This was wonderful when you still lived in extended families. However, by our generations, we were living more in nuclear families and so often would only hear stories during our summer vacations when we would visit our grandparents or they would come visit us! 

So, for us, the Amar Chitra Katha was the best thing that could happen to any young Indian kid in those days! I have yet to meet any Indian my age who doesn't oohhh--ahhhh over their series! Just writing this is getting me all excited! OMGEXCITED! I don't even know how to pick a favorite!!

Amar Chitra Katha took the many stories from the three epics and made it into comics and stories that were kid-friendly! We would eagerly wait for every copy that arrived to read from page one to the end and reread them with such great interest! I think though out of all I love Tenali Rama stories - he was such a witty character! His poems were such fun!

The other books was the Panchatantra - that taught various life lessons! My paternal grandmother though was the best storyteller of this! 

And of course, our life was not complete without the world of Mandrake the magician, Phantom and other comics - which we read for fun!

N and I have begun collecting the above books for D. The only thing is they are all in English! I didn't realize till recently that while we were living in India, my parents brought me up in an English household! It wasn't till we left India and moved to Italy that our household language switched to Telugu! Funny, huh?! I think now they are coming up with books in Telugu and various Indian languages. 

It wasn't until I was 12 and was in Rome, that I discovered the wonderful world of libraries! I pretty much lived in it and submerged myself into the books of Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew!! I remember my English lit teacher got me to read Little Women and I abhorred the whole "girly" books I had labelled them as!! 

What a contrasting life D is living in. She has been to the library since she was 3 months old. She is surrounded with books with stuff she can relate to! No matter what the studies say, I believe the best way to get children interested in books is to model the behavior. For me reading was not a hobby, it was part of my daily life like brushing teeth and combing hair. It was a normal thing to do. I hope that's one thing in the world of books I could pass on to little D.
smittenbyu: (B&W)
D has finally overcome her over-cautiousness and has begun climbing chairs. Our dining table can no longer be used to keep stuff that we don't want her to touch. She has also now mastered climbing up the swiveling computer chair to get to the keyboard and hence I no longer can be by the PC mac when she is around. Does the novelty of this fade away? 

But it's so cute to see her atop the chair with a big smile on her face that beams as if she has conquered mt everest!

At the park, she rode all the slides today. The big spiral one to the small shallow ones. She went up and down for over an hour and refused to go home. Even there she found that coming down on her belly side feet first was the safest way to go! She did try sitting and coming forward only when another kid her size was doing it!! ah heck... I'd rather he be careful and have fun as I am too much of scaredy-cat! 

How do you get a toddler to leave places where they are having fun? I always have to walk away with a screaming crying-bloody-murder of a toddler. I have carried with me hidden treats - toys that she goes gaga over and stops everything for in other situations. But nope, she is determined to stay put! yikes... 

Today the high school baseball team practicing batting and pitching came to the rescue - cut the tantrum by half as we walked home!
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
Yesterday evening I took D out to the lawn next to the pool area for her to hang out. She sits nicely on grass and pulls them all out. Thankfully she doesn't put any of it in her mouth. Only leaves. For some reason she differentiates discriminates between them! It was still a hot evening. The temperature was somewhere still at 90F (33C) at 7:30PM! I saw a bunch of our residents, all young ones probably in their 20s, hanging out in the pool. They were there all day. Baking and soaking. I was feeling a little aghast. But I thought back to when I was a kid...

Summers were/are hot in Hyderabad. It's not uncommon for temperatures to go beyond 40C. There were no AC units back then. Although, our houses where we lived came with one in the living room. It was a huge box that we had to water to get it to work continuously. We were privileged to have this because we lived on campus of an international institute. But we hardly used it. We were hardly home.

Summer vacations were the best! The campus where I grew up had around 20-30 families. All around the same age group. So, almost every home had children of different ages. Because campus was a secured area, our parents hardly ever worried about our safety. We would run all about the playground all over the institute grounds (1,390ha). It's an agricultural institute so there was/is a huge diversity of crops, trees, etc. Oh what fun it was! 

Even before moms and dads got up, we would have been up by 6am, brushed our teeths, got dressed and would run out the door to meet with other kids and take a long walk around the grounds. We would come back only around 8:30-9am, because we would be hungry. Have some thing to eat and then we would be out again. Most of the time, we would be at the swimming pool. If not the swimming pool, we would by the playground or just play whatever games. We would be out for another few hours. Around 11ish we would head home. Take baths. Have lunch. And rest at home in the afternoon. Usually my paternal grandmother would be staying with us. So she would tell us stories. If maternal grandpa and grandma were there, grandpa would give us some English or math lessons. Tata (grandpa in Telugu) also would teach us Telugu. Around 4 or 5pm, we would all go out again.

This time to the sandbox - yes, the one where you would practice long/short jumps. We didn't know that it was for that. For us, it was a patch of beach that transformed into castles with moats and rivers and mountains. A completely different world! Or we would play a game of dodgeball on the parking lot - a cemented road. We would use our shoes/sandals/slippers to form the boundaries. Of course, when any mom came out, we would all run to wear our shoes/sandals/slippers. 

Some days we would go pick fruits off of trees. Mostly mango trees, which is not allowed by the institute. So, it was always done under strict conditions. One would keep a lookout for the security, and the others would throw their slippers at the targeted fruit. Most of the time the slipper would get stuck on the branch and so someone had to climb the tree to collect it. And often picked and dropped the mangos from the branch. If the security came by, we would be found to be picking mangos that fell to the ground - completely acceptable! :D 

As the evening came, dads would come home from work. The "namaste uncles" would begin. And slowly mothers would venture out and the "namaste aunties" would commence. Uncles and aunties would go on their long evening walks, while we continued play. As the sun would set and they would return it would be time for us to head home too. But most of us didn't.

Around 7:00pm, all you would hear around campus are the moms in all different Indian languages, saying the same thing, "come home now!" and slowly leading to, "come home now or else!"

Once we were home, all washed up, it was time for dinner. Maybe half an hour of TV and time for bed.

That was our typical summer day. Once in a while my cousins would be over. But we would do the same thing with them. And on weekends, the exciting thing to do was go on a car ride!! and on the occasional Saturday or Sunday, we watched a movie! But otherwise it would be a lot of storytelling, lot of board games, lot of laughs. Good times!

I don't think D will have such an active lifestyle but hope she has one filled with warm and happy memories!
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
I am dreaming for Toe independence! I am so sick of wearing shoes/boots that it's making me very restless and frustrated. I am yearning for the warm day where I can walk about in my sandals again. Let the toes wiggle free and get plenty of air. I was never a shoes person. 

We grew up on a campus where we often used slippers to create boundaries for the various sport activities, be it dodge ball or whatever other games we came up with or to get that mango from the tree without having to climb the tree! We played on concrete/cemented parking areas. Occasionally we braved the grassy areas, but they were too filled with thorns and it became a bit painful.

Our mothers cringed of course. So, if any time our parents came out, we would make a dash to the slippers and play again! Even when the sun was raging at 90F-100F. I remember my soles being so thick and rough! 

But my feet enjoyed the independence too much and dreaded school days when we were forced to wear socks and shoes, even in the blistering sun in India. At least in Rome and Singapore we were free to wear whatever shoe wear. And Hawaii, well, you can guess. True paradise for the ever independent feet.

I did own one pair of close-toe shoes for office wear in KL. But I wore that exclusively when we went to meet clients, etc. So that pair stayed in the car or in my bag. No, I don't enjoy shoes at all.

It gets so frustrating that after a while I can't focus on anything until I let my toes out free! And hence, for this reason, I can't wait for spring time! 

But they are predicting snow starting tomorrow and continuing into Friday. sigh.
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
I have been poked and probed much in the last few months. Blood has been drawn, fingers have been poked. It might seem not too bad compared to others, but for those who have known me since young would know what a huge milestone I have overcome!

If you ask my mother if I was naughty/mischevious, or gave a lot of trouble, she would respond with saying that I was a great gal, except for two things, eating and going to the doctor. I just wouldn't eat apparently.

The second thing was going to the doctor's! Mostly out of fear of needles. I would be that kid you would need to drag kicking and screaming. Every summer we would need to get malaria shots, and that was a huge endeavour. One would think that I would have gotten used to it after the 10th year. The screaming stopped but not the crying. Apparently I would walk around holding my left shoulder, feeling it swollen in pain, a month before the shots were even given!!!

I did manage to overcome the fear when they had to prick me 23 times to find out what I might be allergic to when I was 12 years old. Mom was so shocked that I didn't shed one tear that she nearly fainted. I nearly fainted though, when I had to go get a blood test done on an empty stomach. Apparently, you don't do so well when you are underweight, fasting, and a whole test tube of blood is taken! But even that I did well, and mom didn't need to tag along, dad did - another accomplishments, as I somehow wouldn't let anyone but mom be my side.

When I went to college on my own in Hawai'i, the first semester we were there we needed to get TB shots (I don't remember the name of the vaccine, but it was a two dose shot). They were giving it free as the college seemed to have a trend of losing two international students to TB every year! So, everyone needed to be tested.

And there I went, into this big auditorium in line with several hundred students all in line filling out forms. I was too embarassed to tell my friends of my fear, and none of them were international students, and so went alone. I gripped the chair so hard and I remembered being so very afraid. That was in itself a milestone! The second shot wasn't so bad!

And yesterday, I went for a follow up blood test. A test-tube full and I didn't flinch one bit! A point the nurse had observed. I still can't look at her poking the needle in, but once it's in I am able to get the courage to take a peek - just a brief glance.

Yes, I am proud! I just hope that my kid doesn't end up being scared of everything as I was in my life! sigh... I am grateful to have a mother who always encouraged me to give life a try and gave me the courage that I needed to face the world. I hope if I do get a child like me that I have the same courage to be there for my little one!
smittenbyu: (laughing)
Was it yesterday I was boasting about being sugar-free? hmmm...okay day-before-yesterday! well, umm... I went and had a Coca-Cola today and am on a complete high!! Imagine me on coffee then! ;)

It reminds me of high school years when my best pal and I would chug down on Coke - extra-large at McDonald's in Wisma Atria and get ever so high. And while friends would sneak into nightclubs and get drunk on alchol, we both were the cool gals getting "drunk" on Coca-Cola. We were so hip! Alright she was Ms. Popular and I was the Dork - the pair you would never see in a hollywood movie but there we were. I can still hear us laughing and laughing like there was no tomorrow till our stomachs ached and our tears flooded the room. I think our record was 20 minutes in a row! Often times we didn't know what we were laughing at/about. But what an escape it was.

Oh although I laugh a lot still these days, for I am one who is easily amused; it's been forever since I have laughed like that. I guess I also miss the company who would join in instead of looking at me oddly. oh I miss my mom and dad my other laughing-partner. Okay they wouldn't laugh along, they would just smile at me, but they are the ones I could comfortably laugh out loud (and my laughs are literally loud).

Speaking of which, when I was a young child, my laughs apparently were quite loud and my parents would ask me to control my volume as not to scare others away. I remember there was this uncle* from Kenya or maybe Tanzania - Mangesha uncle - who noticed my parents telling me to be softer one day when we were at a party at his place. I was maybe 8 years old? I remember him asking me to come over and sit on his lap and laugh as loud as we please along with him.  Oh I was ever so happy and we had a good laugh.

Oh and recently my parents-in-law briefly got a glimpse of laughing-me over the phone and they were so happy! 

Oh the good old laughing days... not counting the occasional awkward high school days, which were many when I come to think of it. hmmmm.... maybe that's why I laughed so much.... my stomach aches now just thinking of all the laughter. oh the joy!

* okay, he wasn't related, he was my dad's senior colleague, but in India (Asia) everyone older to you and is not your father is an uncle! 
smittenbyu: (Default)
Dad had the record - Thriller when we were in India. The record cover just looked so cool. We would hear his music ever so often! But it was at 13 that reminds me of Michael Jackson much more.

We were 13 years old. Our school in Rome participates in Earth Day every year. For that year we put on a show. We had multiple information booths plus a show! Each class had a performance to put on showcasing issues facing the world. Our class wanted to be cool and we picked Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror song as the music during our performance. We all were dressed in tight pants, jackets, hair down (more looking like the Jets in West Side Story..but yeah...). The story we told of was one of our classmates acting out all the things bad for the environment and the rest of us came out snapping our fingers like Michael, walking around convincing him to make the change! And miraculously of course, the classmate does! ;)

Anytime I hear Michael Jackson's name, I remember that song. It introduced me to the world of MJ! What a trajic story his turned out to be. May he now finally rest in peace!

smittenbyu: (fun fun)
Wal-Mart is a place for savings. It conjures up crowds walking about the stores with kids running all over the place, the staff looking forever dazed; you just want to get out of there as soon as possible. But the last few weeks, it has brought back some very pleasant memories of yesteryears. Their new ad for cosmetics. I wish I could find a clip online but we all have enough of ads on TV to put it here on LJ. oh wait, there also ads here on LJ nowadays. hmmm...

Anyway, I digress.

They use the jingle from Bye Bye Birdie's song, How Lovely to be a woman in the backdrop and a bunch of happy women in different phases of life being all happy and dandy putting on various cosmetics singing the song.

Of course, where do you get the best deals for cosmetics? I still don't know but the song has sent me back to days of Middle School, when we performed Bye Bye Birdie during the annual December recital. Of course, our scriptwriters changed the plot line to be something completely different. In our story, the US Space station was coming to completion and soon people were moving in. Hugo's parents were also moving and so everyone was sad. Hugo's girlfriend Kim was devastated. Conrad the high school trouble maker gives them the idea to run away. And so the story went. I think at the end the US space station had some trouble and so they didn't leave or the parents changed their minds and stayed back together. I forget now.

But we took the songs, The Telephone Hour,How Lovely To Be a Woman, Put On A Happy Face, One Boy, Kids and made it our own. Our teachers also reworded the songs here and there, shortened it, modernized it, and had us singing it. I had kept the scripts for the longest of times. But when I went to college and our parents were moving from Singapore to Malaysia it was time to say goodbye to that.

We also had costumes to boot. We had mothers sew up poodle skirts with the poodle design on it for the girls! I forget now what the boys had. I had kept the skirt as well for a long time - not that I actually ever wore it off stage.

So I find myself humming:
How Lovely To Be A Woman,
The Wait Was Well Worth While;
How Lovely To Wear Mascara
And Smile A Woman's Smile.
How Lovely To Have A Figure,
That's Round Instead Of Flat;
Whenever You Hear Boys Whistle,
You're What They're Whistling At.

It's Wonderful To Feel
The Way A Woman Feels;
It Gives You Such A Glow, Just To Know
You're Wearing Lipstick And Heels!

They were fun times! I didn't play any of the main roles, but I always got the roles that cracked a joke or two. It was fun!

The funny thing is, I have never actually seen the original movie! Should rent it out one of these days.
smittenbyu: (Default)
I awoke this morning at 3:00am. What triggered it was N getting up to use the bathroom. After that I tried to get some more sleep. But I was tossing and turning and kept waking N up. So, I am here and now my stomach grumbles.

Which reminded me of the photo I recently discovered at my uncle/aunt's place in Mumbai. I don't ever remember seeing it even though I am the only one who really goes through all the albums at home regularly (although this changed once I moved away). I shared the photo with MIL to reassure her that I have never eaten all that much since youth.

If you ever ask my mom how I was as a kid. She will first smile and give a big sigh. She will then respond in a brief conclusion, "Smitha was a wonderful child. She just nevet ate." I would take hours to finish breakfast, which would be in time for lunch, etc. People would see my thin frame and chastice mom on not feeding me. Everyone would come home to take up the challenge to feed me (this was more when I was a toddler) and fail. It was a daily battle that mom wishes she didn't need to face. We laugh now, but mom didn't find it very amusing. It was a daily chore. People who wouldn't have seen me well into my teen years would ask my mom first, "Does Smitha eat well now?"! really.

The daily chore would ensue the following dialogue, in Telugu, with a pause of a minute between each instruction, "eat", "chew, ", "take out the food in your cheek and swallow." One day when I was maybe 4years old, mother saw me playing with a doll and diligently sharing the same set of instructions with the doll. Mom overheard and didn't know whether to laugh or to cry.

This is the usual daily scene... I think this was when I was 9-10 years old.

ma & I ...the usual saga 

Of course, once I left home and returned from college, mom saw a big difference. I was eating as if I hadn't eaten in years! But that was I think mostly because I missed mom's cooking more than anything. I sometimes see that sad/happy look on mom's face when she sees me savouring food like there's no tomorrow.

And now it's MIL. She feels I don't eat much. But really, I do. Although when I look at the photo and see the amount of rice, it baffles me I ate so much! I think that would be my whole lunch now!

But my stomach is growling and it needs to be fed! Mom would be ever so ecstatic... This trip she cooked up a feast, with the hopes that I will still eat a lot! It's a subject that is ever so senstive. Oh the pains I put her through.
smittenbyu: (fun fun)
Maybe it’s the “dating” phase of the relationship.  But it’s the little things that have always made me happy; actually ecstatic.  I get a happy tingle that lasts for several hours and no matter what news hits that joy in my heart still flutters. Mom has always pointed that out about me.

The story she would share with me dated back to when I was three years old. I have heard this story many times. And it’s one I like to hear again and again and again. I was very sick with stomach flu or something for several days. I was continuously throwing up and was completely down and out. Upon my third or fourth throw-up in the day, my mom had just finished washing me up and finding something to change me into. She described the look I had on my face. I looked, it seems, completely drained out of energy, with no motivation to go on. She found a little dress and put it on me.

That mood changed instantly. Suddenly she saw the biggest smile on my face and that flicker of joy in my eyes. Mom couldn’t comprehend that change and it made her smile as well. What made my mood change so dramatically? My dress had pockets. It seems I had a thing for pockets. I liked them a lot and at that moment pockets made my life worth living for and I was happy. Who cares if I hadn’t had food for three days and really was down and out. My dress had pockets! Mom didn’t know whether to laugh with me or cry! (I still have a thing for pockets! :))

So what made me happy this morning? N had to go in my direction today for a seminar and I had to come to office earlier than usual for a program. So, we rode the train together. I was glowing. Yes, I was looking like the happiest woman on earth. Just his company on the morning commute made me feel so giddy and good. So, I of course suggested he do this every time I need to go into office! For some odd reason he thought it wasn’t a practical one.

snack time

Jan. 31st, 2008 04:35 pm
smittenbyu: (fun fun)
oh dear... realised we have ketchup at home!! And bread next to it. So obviously one must toast up the bread and use the ketchup to make smiley faces on the bread and then consume it. It's missing mayo as there's none at home. But it's the ultimate snack. The bread is like 20-grain something... so at least a bit healthy!! :P This was sis & mine high school snack. We were nuts about it!! And a memory long forgotten till today!

Now we need some mayo.......


Jan. 23rd, 2008 11:15 am
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
After 19 years of living in apartments, my parents were looking forward to be living in a house on the ground floor with a garden. They were so keen on having a garden that they even built an indoor one for the wintry cold days (well, wintry for Bangalore standards). But the attachment to gardens roots back to the garden we grew up with in Hyderabad. Dad was the gardener. We had two gardens in fact on either side of the house. So one side grew the vegetables & fruits - kitchen garden and the other, where we spent most of our time grew all the pretty flowers. Here grew the love for roses; as we had one in almost every color. We had bougainvillea, hibiscus, jasmine, papaya, banana, pomegranate. Our favorite though was the guava tree. Actually we liked our neighbor's guava tree as it grew into our side and ours grew into theirs. Theirs produced big juicy guavas, that grew to double the size of a tennis ball. Ours was smaller than the tennis ball.

There would be days mom would make us stay home. In times like those we were in the garden. We would climb up the guava tree and get up on the wall, where we would meet the neighboring kids and have a nice chat. Yes, atop the walls. Our neighbor behind, their kids would walk on over and also join in the fun. We technically didn't leave home! ;)

The garden had a deck made of concrete slabs. Where we kept a few chairs to sit on. This was where during the summer our aunts would seat us down and feed us lunch while telling us stories. It was where grand mom would comb her hair after a bath and chant some prayers in the morning. Summer also brought a lot of heat. Temperatures would rise into the late 30s CENTIGRADE (late 80s F) and occasionally to 41-43C (100-110 F). Sister and I would get so excited when we were asked to spray some water on the concrete slabs to get a cooling effect. We would enjoy watching the steam rise up when the water hit the slabs. And yes, we both would run around barefoot. Our soles were quite thick and rough back then.

Such carefree days were spent in that garden. Anytime I see a garden it fills me with so much joy for this very reason. Good memories, good times.



Jan. 22nd, 2008 12:51 pm
smittenbyu: (Default)
Back in 2002, I was volunteering at some exhibition held at the venue on Ala Moana Beach park (Hawai'i). I forget now what it was for, but there were a diverse group of exhibits all relating to health issues. I guess I was at environmental health booth. Next to us was a chiropractor or something related to the spine. I really forget now. But he was giving free spinal alignment checkup. He got a lot of people to get it done and was spending the day giving advice and trying to sign up some clients for future consulting. At the end of my shift I thought I would get it done. He was surprised to see how well aligned my spine was.

I give all the credit to mom. She spent almost ten years of our childhood drilling the importance of good posture into us. Even when we were in public, at events she would remind us to sit up straight. She would do this by making a fist, and rising the index finger mimicking the spine. The time this was done mostly was during our music classes. Our "band" of "musicians" consisted of the teacher who played the tabla and if the aunty (in the photo below) is not available the harmonium, mother with the shaking thing in the photo - corner top left (have no idea about the name), three of us on sitar (that's me on bottom left corner), and about ten kids (all girls for whatever reason) singing. She was known among my friends as "posture lady". Mom would raise her index finger and everyone would raise up! :)


I have to say though in the last few years, my posture has gotten worse. I slouch so much more and more often. I still picture in my head, my mother looking at me and her index finger rising to remind me.
smittenbyu: (relaxed)
ma & ajji @ the bus stop

The bus stop was unmarked but everyone knew where to wait. It brought together a diversity of people awaiting their ride on the signature yellow bus. The sight of this fleet brought excitement in every kid's heart, especially when we were out in the city. It marked the sign of home. At that time the only other buses you saw in the city were the public transport, BHEL buses, Central University buses. And ours was yellow! It became a sign of security, no matter what, you could get home, away from the hustle bustle of the city of Hyderabad or Secunderabad.

And this is where we waited for the bus to go to school, to the city. Every weekday morning between 7:30-7:45am, the serene surroundings would suddenly burst into chaos. Children in school uniforms & their bags walking drearily to head to school, with their mothers chasing after them of the forgotten lunch box. Some would be finishing up their breakfast at the bus stop. And the occasional few who came ready would sit and watch the line of the yellow bus fleet bringing in the employees living in the city to the office area. What excitement it brewed. And when we would spot ours coming, at least one kid would burst out in excitement. Mothers and toddlers would be hanging around, chit-chatting about the weather, the day, or what not. The last minute game of tag would ensue with mothers begging them to stop so the uniform wouldn't get messed. And as the bus came closer that excitement faded and reality settled that it would be another day in school. sigh... the rides would be quiet. Our driver would usually be Janakiram uncle, a strict driver who would scold anyone who would stand up on the ride. He was tall, had a serious face that scared any kid of any age. And he took us safely down old-Bombay highway to school.

Some of us (like me) would get on the bus with great difficulty, some be kicking and screaming. The younger siblings who would watch us go, who were too young to go to school would be so eager to go, just to get a ride on the yellow bus!

On weekends the bus stop would be different. No school, no stress. The bus stop would be filled with parents with young ones, foreigners from Africa, UK, and other places, all with the goal of heading to the city for fun, shopping, or meeting their family. When the bus arrived, all the kids would congregate at the back of the bus, singing, teasing the automobiles behind, laughing, talking stories would ensue. But mothers say that our usual mantra would be the chanting of "yellow bus! yellow bus!" We chanted from the very bottom of our hearts and at the loudest volume! Maybe it made the bus fly through traffic, but it truly enchanted us!

Alas, about ten years ago the buses were sold off to other private entities and now the buses are white. All of us, although grown up, saw it as a great loss, a great sorrow. Last time I was in Hyderabad, my heart still fluttered when I saw that yellow bus go down the street but alas it no longer would take us home, a place of safety, serenity, peace. But the bus stop is still there. I hear it's a marked spot now, but nothing much else has changed! And of course, it no longer hears the cries, the screams, the excitement of young children going to school but boasts foreign scientists who might have been there before but also some heading out to the city of Hyderabad for the very first time! It fills with a different kind of excitement still. But the yellow bus is gone.


smittenbyu: (Default)

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