Sundays in Thane in the 1960s

I have been born and brought up in Thane. Though today it is a bustling metropolis, fifty odd years ago it was a small cluster of villages and everyone knew everyone.

I loved the fact that hens and ducks and pigs roamed the streets and that you could hear the church bell peal in the mornings and evenings.

Growing up in Thane in the 60s was special, but the Sundays had a magic of their own. . No mater what the weather, it could be pouring cats and dogs, but Sundays for me even today are always days of sunshine and happiness. If I had to give Sundays a colour, it would be yellow, a lovely smiley sunshine yellow.

Sundays are meant for a lazy snooze in, but I love being up early, especially on a Sunday, knowing that the whole day stretches before me; mine to do what I like; no compulsory chores; just my lazy “me” day.

Sundays have a special smell, coffee, bacon and eggs and mummy’s favourite perfume. As a child, Sunday mornings meant getting ready to go to church, all dressed up and pretty and if I promised to behave well, I got a spray of Mom’s perfume on my wrists. This was a very precious gift as Mom’s perfumes were always hidden in her cupboard which was always locked. So not only did we get to use her perfume, but she had to open the cupboard to get it out and that afforded us a glimpse of that magical place where she kept all her lovely silk saris and jewellery.

Sundays were the days when the whole family sat down to a leisurely breakfast together; Grandpa Willie, Grandma Mary, Dad, Mom, my sisters and me and our dogs Laddie and Trigger, under the table getting scraps of food from everyone.

Sundays always saw a stream of regular visitors to our house. No sooner was breakfast over, than Giprya would be at our door. He was an old vagabond of indiscriminate age. He wore a long oversized black overcoat that someone had given him. He had a battered worn out waking stick too, which I think, he used more to hit out at the stray dogs that barked at him than to help him walk.

His face was thin and gaunt, framed with an unkempt salt and pepper beard. To our utter fascination, he wore earrings. He was always accompanied by his mangy old dog that went by the generic name of Kutriya.

After Giprya, came Mai, an old bent woman, with shockingly pure white hair. She wore old baggy dresses and smiled her toothless smile when we gave her food that she liked.  And boy, she sure had a temper. Once my grandmother gave her some leftover vegetable made from bitter gourd. She looked at it suspiciously and asked Grandma what it was. On being told that it was karela, she overturned the bowl and dumped the contents in anger at Grandma’s feet. Though the adults were affronted by this, I, at five, found it absolutely fascinating that she had the guts to do that to my grandmother, who could be pretty tyrannical when she wanted to.

Then it was the turn of the dhobi. I love the ritual of him and Mom sitting and counting the clothes and arguing about a bed sheet he had not returned or a shirt of Dad’s that he had not ironed well enough.

While this colourful parade of visitors graced our door, Grandpa would be in the back yard, deciding which hen would go into the pot for our lunch that day. We always watched in wonder as he deftly wring the neck of the hapless hen and dressed and cut the bird.

Lunch was a grand affair, with “dal curry”, rice, “appars”, cutlets, salad and either mutton or chicken along with a fugath; and of course dessert. The meal was cooked by Mom and Grandma, using recipes handed down over generations.

Though Sunday was a holiday, it was the one day no one would be outside playing. Playing with friends was for the weekdays like lessons and school. Sunday was totally family time and it was generally spent at home.

In the evenings, we would go over to Grandma Bessie’s house. Mom’s sister would come with her family. The adults including Grandma Bessie and Mom’s brothers would all sit to play Carrom or Scrabble or some other games where all the kids too could join in.

My uncles, Newman and Oscar, who were bachelors, would compete in the kitchen, to produce the most exotic dish. We loved these competitions as we got to taste things like mushrooms and noodles and other dishes which did not otherwise form part of our diet.

The grand finale of the day was being rocked to sleep by Grandpa Willie .Though it’s been almost 45 years now, I can still hear his voice as he sang lullabies to us.

Yes. Sunday’s were truly magical and maybe it is the memory of the Sundays of my childhood that spills over to make Sundays feel special even today.

 

 

This post was written in response to the prompt on Friday Reflections . Friday Reflections is a link up hosted by Shalini at KohlEyed Me, Corinne at Everyday Gyaan.

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