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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1. Write about a place or city you love.
2. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”- Eleanor Roosevelt
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Endlessly

 

I walk through the house

Listlessly

It seems so big somehow

And so empty.

I strain my ears.

Is that your voice I hear?

That laugh that was so typically you.

I close my eyes and I can breathe in the scent of your body,

Feel its warmth surrounding me.

I reach out and can touch you,

Feel the texture of your skin

So achingly familiar.

I open my eyes reluctantly

To find myself alone

As I wait for you

Endlessly.

 

 

This post is in response to the Friday reflections prompt of the week: “Sometimes waiting is the hardest thing of all.” – Luanne Rice

No Books!

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This post is written in response to a prompt on Friday Reflections on  Write Tribe

The prompt was “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

No Books!?!

“Get up”  My mother in law shook me awake. It was the day after my wedding. I sat up sleepily and looked around the tiny room that was now my home.  Somehow my mother in law had made space for all seventeen of us (My  brother in law and his wife, my sisters in law and their husbands and all their kids and of course hubby, ma in law and me!).

“Go and have a bath and get ready before anybody else gets up,” she said. “And wear something nice. You are a new bride!”

“Yes” I thought to myself with a shake of my head as I bathed in the minuscule bathroom that had just a curtain to screen it from the kitchen. “A new bride who spend her first night sleeping between her husband and mother in law”.

This was not how I had imagined my wedding night at all. I suppose I had all the Bollywood  movie images of flower decked beds and total privacy, certainly not crammed in a room with fifteen other people.  But I really didn’t mind as this was the family I had chosen for my own and in any case we were off for our honey moon in a couple of days once all the traditional visiting back and forth was over.

Soon everyone was awake, and the work got distributed. Some of my sisters in law saw to the lunch preparations while others looked after the kids. The men generally sat around reading the paper or watching TV or drinking beer. (After all it was a wedding)

When I asked to be given some work to do, ma in law said, “Just relax today. You have your whole life to work. This is one day, when you are allowed not to work in your sasural. Take full advantage of it.”

‘Not bad!”  I thought and looked around for hubby. But he was in the midst of a very vociferous argument with his brothers. So I looked around for my first love, books. And my heart broke! There were no books to be found anywhere! Not a single book in that house!

Suddenly that room which till now had seemed so warm and full of love, turned stifling! Why, oh why, had I not thought of packing some books in the overnight case I had sent on earlier that week!  Thank God we had to go to my parent’s house for dinner that night. It meant I could pick up some books and get them back with me. But what was I to do till then?

Hubby must have sensed something because he came over and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“There are no books! I need to go out now and buy some books!”

Before he could answer, my eldest sister in law replied, “Don’t be silly. You can’t go out of the house by yourself like that! You are a new bride!”

I looked at hubby in despair, but he just turned and walked away.

I sat back in my chair, feeling really miserable. The size of the house had not got me down, neither had the fact that I had to spend my wedding night amidst the entire clan.  No I was able to deal with all of that. But this, this was something I couldn’t imagine.  I couldn’t remember a time without books. I read a book a day at times.  I had laughed through them, cried through them, fallen in love with both the heroes and heroines and started writing because of them.  Books for me were as essential as breathing! And here I was, stuck in a house with not a single book!

Suddenly a bundle was thrust into my lap. “My wedding gift to you!”  whispered hubby  and I saw a dozen books by all my favourite authors.  He had managed to slip out to buy me my beloved books ! Not caring who was watching I flung my arms around him and hugged him as tightly as I could. I had never loved him more than at that moment!

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I Have Confidence!

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The other day, I was watching the movie, “The Sound of Music”. It is one of my favourite movies and I can watch it over and over again.  I love all the songs of course, but one that I particularly relate to is the one Julie Andrews sings when she leaves the convent for the first time.

The words, “What will this day be like? I wonder. What will the future bring?” reflect our own attitude and lives. I particularly love this line, “I have confidence in confidence alone, besides which you see I have confidence in me.”

Everyday we are faced with new challenges, new situations, new problems. Most of them are unexpected. Most of them we have never faced before. How does this make us feel?

The unknown and the uncertain always bring with them fear, insecurity and lack of confidence. Are we scared? Are we worried? Of course, we are! Who wouldn’t be? But this is where our attitude comes in. Do we approach these problems and situations and challenges with timidity or do we tell ourselves, “I have confidence in me?”

Life may not always give you what you want. But if you believe in yourself you will make the most of what life gives you. As the words go, “I have confidence in sunshine. I have confidence in rain.” So no matter what the barometer of life says, it is confidence that will get us through.

When you are confident you can face anything. You may not have all the answers; but you don’t give up even before you start. You use your resources and try to work things out.

So when you are faced with a new day and wonder, “What will this day be like?”, when you feel the butterflies in your stomach, don’t let them hold you back. Teach them to fly in formation with confidence!

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