a ‘katta’ in marathi slang would mean ‘a place where people meet impromptu, sit, talk, share, idle away their time n grow up’. it continues to exist in almost every corner of Bombay. each neighborhood, college, school or even a lone building has its very own 'katta' where rich, poor, high class, low class, cease to matter n all come together. local in nature, it has a life of its own, a mood of it own, always occupied, always alive.
चहा जणू काही माझा जीव कि प्राण. सकाळी उठल्या उठल्या सगळ्यात आधी हातात हवा तो चहाचा कप. नसला तर जीव अगदी कासावीस होऊन जातो. भले माझी सकाळी उठण्याची वेळ ६, ७, ८, ९, १० असो कि दुपारचे दीड-दोन असो. चहा शिवाय चैन पडणे अशक्यच. कधी कुणी "What's your poison?" असा प्रश्न चुकून जरी विचारला तर माझे उत्तर हमखास चहा असे असायचे. गैरसमज नको. मला चहा प्यायल्यावर चढत वगैरे नाही ;-) किंवा त्याची चटक हि नाही. दिवसाला २ कप हि पुरेसे असतात.
स्वयंपाक घरात सगळ्यात पहिली गोष्ट करायला शिकले तो सुद्धा चहाच. चहाची तर्हा निराळीच. चव हि. आणि सगळ्यांची बनवण्याची व आस्वाद घेण्याची पद्धत हि. साहित्य, कृती, प्रकार, प्रमाण, ठिकाण, लाभ आणि त्याचे रसिक ह्या सगळ्यातच अगणित विविधता. लिहायला बसले तर अख्खा "ब्लोग" च चहा वर समर्पित करावा लागेल :D आणि खर सांगू तर ते काम करायला माझी हरकत हि नाही. वेळ नाहीये हीच एक खंत.
आज हि आजीने केलेल्या मसालेदार चहाची (आणि लज्जतदार जेवणाची) आठवण येते. मन अगदी प्रसन्न होते आणि मग लगेचच भरून हि येते :-)
काही महिन्यांपूर्वी संध्याकाळी मी कसला तरी विचार करत बसले होते. आणि हा फोटो सहज म्हणून काढला. आणि नेहमी प्रमाणे त्यावर "उगीच कोणीतरी" ने मजेशीर कविता रचली. तुम्हाला हि तितकीच रुचकर वाटेल हि आशा :-)
कितीतरी पडदे , कितीतरी रंग ...
सलमान खान च्या हालचालीसारखे
गडबडीने उकळत राहतात,
काही चहा ,
देवगण च्या रागासारखे
कडक लाल टक लाउन
आतल्या आत धुमसत असतात
तर काही चहा
कुणा काजोल वर चालणार्या सिनेमा सारखे
कुणा एका साहेबी चहा पत्ती मध्ये मुरत राहतात ...
इरफान खान सारखे
इंग्रजी किटली तूनच बाहेर कपात पडतात;
काही काही चहा तर
आल, पुदिना मसाल्याचे दागिने घालून,
एका मुलीच्या अभ्यासा साठी,
एका आईच्या मनातूनच बाहेर पडतात ...
पडदा उघडतो, वाफा काचा झाकावतात,
सगळे नट नट्या, जांभया देत घरी निघतात
एक अभ्यासू मुलगी, एक आई ,
आणि प्रेमाने वाफाळलेला चहा ...
- सुरंगा दाते
amusing it is but unlike most humans, i quite look forward to hospital visits. maybe it has to do with the fact that i was reminded repeatedly since childhood by all and sundry that i was born in a kitchen (of my favourite grandparents' home) and not on a random hospital bed! it fascinated me to no end (esp. if you connect this fact with my eternal love for food). and i have always felt special and quaint and unique and exclusive, etc, etc since then. you get the drift... yes, there is a particular hospital i am quite fond of visiting. though the reasons for the visits in the past were not all that pleasant (except the very 1st one ever when the little sister decided to bless the 3 of us with her much welcome presence in our super adventurous lives! :) i can actually recall almost all my visits to the BARC hospital in Anushaktinagar, Bombay till date from the time i was issued the CHSS card in my name. essential part of my memories associated with the wonder years (almost 2 decades) spent in this huge township.
(via google / barc.ernet.in)
never dared to ask any soul (not even my own sister!) till date if they are fond of this hospital as much as i am. that would be akin to going ahead and asking for a stamp of approval on my state of craziness. but i genuinely feel that whoever designed this well-maintained architecture and landscape did so with a lot of heart. yes, it has all that other public / government hospitals do. nothing fancy about it nor does it exactly match up to all the high-end facilities one sees, reads or hears of in private hospitals. yet i never felt depressed or suffocated whenever i was in the vicinity or inside the premises. ample space, lot of green cover and a number of birds chirping all around to soothe the soul. it is that serene and idyllic a location. the sprawling lawns of the hospital allowed the residents to enjoy their quite evenings back then. it even gave shelter to the students who wanted to study in its calming ambience. visited it again early morning last week after almost 3 long years. the reason was not pleasant again. aai had to be hospitalized for a minor surgery. there was a slight nervousness of course and excitement as always. i was in the colony after a long gap too. took my own sweet time to reach the ward she was admitted in. various floors and departments inside were decorated for the dussera puja and festivities next day. dussera is considered big in BARC overall esp. the working class. admiring the all-too-familiar spaces (and also a few faces) on our way. once we reached her floor, what was not all that familiar was her face and a few other things about her. i was seeing her after almost a month. and what i saw is only giving me sleepless nights since wednesday. the ever-smiling-gentle-forgiving-comforting-encouraging-content face etched in my heart and being forever suddenly seemed to have aged by a decade or two on the outside and within. i managed to compose myself somehow and went about my duties along with my sister in tow. we waited with her till she was served a very healthy, balanced lunch by the wonderful angels working there as ayahs. and only after we were asked by the nurse not to crowd her room and were sure that the father is around for some more time, we went down to the hospital canteen to have a quick lunch ourselves. would you believe me if i say that even the canteen hit me with much nostalgia? it is a small but quite spacious independent structure in a quaint corner of the spread-out hospital premises serving some decent food at VFM (value-for-money) prices for the hospital employees and general visitors. this canteen along with 2-3 other canteens in the township used to be one of our backup plans when aai wasn't around at home or we were too bored/lazy to cook. we quickly finished the meal along with a myna giving us interesting company with her curious stares and survey of all the tables and its occupants. on our way back to her room, we happened to pass the hospital kitchen/pantry on the same floor and witness the ayahs preparing for the dussera puja with rangolis, marigold flower decorations, prasad and some of them playing a much subdued symbolic garba inside the pantry on a makeshift floor. i couldn't help but stand, smile and be a part of that warm moment, their bonhomie. most of them are low on 'high-brow education' or 'sophisticated trainings' of any kind but quite high on 'humanity' and 'compassion'. am glad and grateful to them and the nurses and doc on duty for taking good care of my aai for 3 days. i even remember telling my sister that day on our way home just how wonderful a feeling it would be to cook (i love to cook!) in that huge spacious kitchen for all the patients in the hospital or atleast on that floor. someday! someday! (yes, i get such crazy ideas at any given time on any given day in my life. no matter how low or depressed i am :) aai is home now and will be admitted again next week since the surgery did not take place. and the two of us are worried sick for her failing health. it's like she has given up on life, hope or any faith in her future or purpose for living. leaving us feeling much frustrated, guilty, terribly sad, angry, helpless and lonely! i hope we are able to work around a solution for the situation sooner than later. and actually manage to give that noble soul the happiness and peace of mind she so deserves at this stage in her life. do pray. meanwhile, i draw strength from this lady (and the hummingbird). Wangari Maathai was and will always remain our hero. may her soul rest in peace. and i also continue to miss and remain overly nostalgic about our beloved Anushaktinagar and everything it stands for us :)
2 more days to go! and i feel as if i have already welcomed October 2 weeks ago with a barrage of positive news, people, health and vibes coming my way. touching wood is happening ever since. quite amusing though considering just how much i was dreading September this year for 2 completely different reasons.
so yes, as always i look forward to my eternally favourite last quarter of the year with bated breath and much melodrama! ;o)
in the next few posts, i will be putting up a few pictures clicked by me along with the poems composed by Suranga m'am. and no this is not a shameless plug :o) it is just me sharing her amazing talent with you all who loiter around my 'katta'. i find it amazing that the images i capture with a completely different emotion/intention in my mind is given another dimension altogether in her verses. though i do not post any images on my Facebook account anymore, i absolutely miss her 2-minute instant poems (and oh, i must admit here that i do not remember making even Maggi noodles in 2 minutes till date unlike what the brand has been busy claiming all these years!).
photograph taken by me
Some habits die hard.
Since childhood, every morning,
post the hurry and flurry
of watering and cleaning,
Madame Tree, freshly bathed,
would look into the Sky mirror,
adjust her leaves just so,
and preen; followed by
a languorous stretching of branches
in a mild movement of air,
designed to cook a snook
at the little bird on the roof,
watching all this avidly.
But one day, when she looked,
the Sky mirror showed,
instead of green,
and before Madam Tree could figure out,
the bird on the roof smirked, and said,
"The municipality has not cleaned
the storm drains this year...
so sit and enjoy your time
in the floods, while I soar
way up above the clouds,
watching all your fun..."
- Suranga Date
the original verse in Marathi is posted on her blog here. do hop in there!
The Nazis were obviously wrong to hate the Jews. But their hating the Jews was not without a cause. But the cause was not real. The cause was imagined. The cause was FEAR.
There are all sorts of minorities, blondes for example, but a minorityis only thought of as one when it constitutes some kind of threat to the majority. A real threat or an imagined one. And therein lies the FEAR. And, if the minority is somehow invisible...
...the fear is even greater.
And this FEAR is the reason the minority is persecuted. So, there always is a cause. And the cause is FEAR. Minorities are just people. People like us.
Fear, after all, is our real enemy. Fear is taking over our world. Fear is being used as a tool of manipulation in our society. It’s how politicians peddle policyand how Madison Avenue sells us things that we don’t need. Think about it. Fear that we’re going to be attacked, fear that there are communists lurking around every corner, fear that some little Caribbean country that doesn’t believe in our way of life poses a threat to us. Fear that black culture may take over the world. Fear of Elvis Presley’s hips. Well, maybe that one is a real fear. Fear that our bad breath might ruin our friendships, Fear of growing old and being alone. Fear that we’re useless and that no one cares what we have to say.
watched the film "A Single Man" directed by Tom Ford for the second time last week. the above lines from the same film kept rushing back to me 2 days ago. heart missed a beat and some more when i heard the news. too-familiar-for-comfort feelings of worry, sadness and numbness followed. like they do every time i read on the internet (no, you don't get to read the 'real', 'objective' truth anymore in any of the mainstream national dailies or on the idiot box!) about the atrocities committed all across the nation be it the militancy in Kashmir, farmer suicides in Maharashtra, Gujarat, rape of humans and rich resources in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, the North-east, mass murders of the marginalized sections in the society all across, state capitalism. all this affects me as much as the serial bomb blasts by "the outsiders" (though it is not confirmed yet who did it!) in my own city over the years. in fact much more! i feel more rage and bitterness when "the insiders" - the government and us citizens, cannot care for and take care of our own nation as one unit. or tackle corruption, crimes, inequalities, environmental degradation, etc. within. religion, patriotism, equality, urbanization, development, globalization, war, terrorism, justice, hatred, revenge, nationalism (hyper!), etc. are big words and have different meanings for different people. i wish the two words "humanity" and "compassion" had the same meaning for all of us.
there were days when i used to wake up with these recurring dreams of a quaint little house in a quaint little town with dainty little bushes full of flowers and creepers as a fence. iron gates are so not my style! of course, there was a charming not-so-little garden surrounding the gorgeous little home as well. ah! the garden had it all - every possible tree (with/without fruits but with a whole lot of shade), plants, potted herbs, flowers, butterflies, birds, birdhouses, feeders, bushes, vegetables, fountain, creepers, ferns, honeybees,...it also had one very basic sturdy little swing hanging from a banyan tree! and there are 2 images that still remain vivid in my memory:
1. myself on that swing.
2. a courtyard full of frangipani flowers. and the aroma from the flowers stimulating my entire being.
in the real world though, my sister and i were quite fortunate enough to have a little patch of land for a garden when we stayed in the BARC quarters. we fulfilled all our over-enthusiastic dreams of gardening by growing every possible thing there with the much-needed help from our father (our love for gardening comes from him!). it was a secret little world we disappeared into after coming back from school every single day. we were deeply attached to that space for a long long time. we carry on living with much fond memories of our 'lessons and little adventures in the garden'.
and now i consider myself lucky again to have a quaint little terrace all for myself. it remains a poor substitute for any garden of course but atleast i get to indulge myself a bit as far as my love for all things green and gardening is concerned :-)). a few months back i happened to pick up the frangipani (plumeria pudica or wild plumeria) plant from a local nursery and it hasn't stopped flowering ever since. touchwood. day in and day out, the smiles of the flowers make my days worthwhile! if not a 'courtyard', they sure fill up my terrace and verandah with much happiness :-)
here are a few shots only for your eyes!
all the photographs taken by me
and besides these flowers, there is someone else who knows just how to make my day - Suranga m'am! she instantly came up with a lovely verse for it after i posted a photograph on FB :-)) here are those lines translated by her in english for you ::
A hot and sultry May afternoon
at the family homestead in Konkan,
little girl cousins at grandma's,
playing in soft frilled white summer frocks;
the Sagargota stones have been abandoned,
for the liquid gold of the Raiwal mango,
squeezed,slurped and swallowed,
while the yellow gold drips indulgently
on to the pristine white innocence....
And while grandma takes a nap,
the creaking of the old swing,
and plundering of mangoes continues,
in the mind,
making you smile,
hot and sultry,
this Monday morning in Mumbai... - Suranga Date
for the original delightful description and actual poem in marathi, please visit her blog here.
2 things happened last sunday within a span of 12 hours. one human broke my trust. another human reaffirmed it. one is 50+ and the other is only about 5. one i have known for about a year now and the other 'met' me for all of a minute or two. so i choose to talk only about the 5 year old instead because the 50+ year old breaking my trust is not even worth occupying space in my mind or the blog!
there is something about kids and me. am fond of them is an understatement. i love them! i grew up with them (we all do i know i know!). but i literally grew up with kids around me all the time. my aai attracted kids i guess. so whether it was neighbours, relatives or couples in our residential township looking for someone to babysit their kids for a few hours after school, we were always surrounded by them. i actually feel heartbroken sometimes when a kid fails to warm upto me. i see it as some shortcoming in me if they don't happen to like me. yes am 'weird' i admit :-) i still love and used to look forward to all the bonding with the kids (ESPECIALLY loved the way they came running towards me to be in my arms after i used to come back from school/college/office! :D )
(okay thy will not digress from the topic!)
since the time i shifted to the new home and started working from home for past 1 year and more, i have become 'more' aware of and begun to appreciate all the sounds around me. esp. those of the lovely birds who visit my door, windows and terrace throughout the day. apart from that, there are tons of other sounds which fall under different categories! one such sound(s) is that of the kids in my residential complex. they play, fight, giggle, joke around, crib, discuss school/studies/friends, cry, sing, dance, brag, shout, scream, chase the dogs, trouble the cats, celebrate and do a lot of masti. their mums yell at them for - not eating food on time, getting hurt, ruining clothes, fighting with neighbours' kids, getting late, studies, etc etc. i am a silent witness to all of this (it's a very middle-class neighbourhood with a strong sense of community bonding unlike people living in tower buildings / closed apartments) and i only realize how much i truly miss it all when i don't 'hear' these sounds once in a while. they keep a wonderful and amusing company to my lonely weekdays. and no i have never met any of these moms and their children till date as they happen to live in the buildings behind my building wing entrance so we never even bump into each other whenever i step out of home. or even if i might have bumped into them in the local markets i wouldn't have really known who is who! :D
(okay thy will not digress from the topic!)
there is one such mommy and her 2 sons i have grown to be fond of :-) the kids are called 'Sonu' and 'Monu'! am quite confident if she comes in front of me, i'd be able to recognize her the moment she 'speaks' something.
so on sunday afternoon, i was lazying around reading a book post a sumptuous breakfast and lunch (I live to EAT!). there was a knock at the door and not the usual doorbell ringing through my ears. i opened the main door to find myself peering at two 3-feet high boys through the grill door. they said their cricket ball had landed on my terrace so they had come to take it back and resume their play. i asked them if they are sure about this. they said, "haan didi. hamare saath jo bada ladka khelta hai, usne dekha jab woh cricket ball upar terrace pe ja ke gira!". so i asked them to wait till i go upstairs and check if it's really there. it had actually landed on the terrace hiding right behind the leg of a stool i keep there for some of my planters. i got it downstairs and asked them playfully what do i get in return for giving back the ball to them.
the elder one: "didi, you get a 'thank-you' from us with a smile!"
me: "well, that's not enough!"
the elder one: "aapko kya chahiye, didi?"
me: "i want a chocolate or toffee in return"
the elder one: "okay! i promise"
i grinned and while handing back the ball to them asked the elder one his name. pat came the reply, "Sonu and this is my brother Monu"!
aaaaaah i wanted to dance and scream and hug the kids so bad that very moment. call me silly, stupid, mad and what-you-wish but that's how madly happy i was that day :D so i just about managed to compose myself and said "Oooooh! Sonu!!!!! soooo glad to meet you!" :D (and this is what i actually wanted to say - i know you and your little brother too well and say 'hi' to your mommy as well! :D :D but i controlled myself lest they'd think am one crazy didi!). they ran away with the ball with a 'thank you' echoing back at me from the staircase :D i closed the doors with a huge grin pasted on my face and got back to my dream world (aka reading). after about 10-15 minutes, there was another knock at the door. i actually wondered if it is my neighbour next-door bringing over some non-veg lunch for me which she usually does on sunday afternoons (yes my neighbours also know by now just HOW MUCH I LOVE FOOD! am SUPER-BLESSED! :D ) with a spring in my step i opened the door and there they were again - the duo 'Sonu and Monu'! i asked them, "what is it? is the cricket ball again on the terrace?? he gave a sheepish smile and shook his head (saying 'no'). while i looked away puzzled at both of them, his tiny hand reached up through the grilled door and passed on 1 tiny toffee bar of Melody (it used to be our favourite when we were kids :D :D). okay by now i can't even express in so many words what went through my head and heart that very moment. am no wordsmith. i had forgotten all about the toffee and the promise and the kid cared to go down and get one for me so he could keep his promise! :D the toffee must have cost them a mere 50 paise (half an Indian Rupee) but for me the whole experience that afternoon remains extremely precious and priceless in the whole wide world! i thanked them profusely and tapped on their heads and ruffled their hair a bit and let them go. i closed the door and jumped up and down and round and round with overflowing joy :D :D after all this i had one BIG MANGO to celebrate the moment!
“Sometimes”, said Pooh, “the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” - A.A. Milne
that's what i happen to call my rose plant and this is my first rose plant ever! i do not remember us having one in our previous garden either. gulabo bloomed after a good 2-3 weeks in the month of april this year and i could not resist myself from capturing its pristine beauty :-) and as if THAT was not exciting enough, Suranga m'am managed to surprise me with yet another lovely interpretation in form of words :-))
here are two shots of my gulabo in full-bloom on the terrace along with the verse penned by the versatile poet.
both the photographs taken by me
Wet aromas of mud,
potting, eggshell powder
and concentric channels in soil
as the mud,
seeing and knowing a good thing ,
rushes to pile itself up at the roots.
The obsession with color,
and the desperation
to emerge beautifully bright.
It's only when the sun shines
that it is clear, that
despite the charms of color,
whether your mind inside,
is black or white,
or even a grey,
depends on how well
you mix with
a neutral society
- Suranga Date
You can access the original post described more vividly here :-)
and oh coming back to dates, it has been exactly 1 whole year today of survival, strength, weaknesses, independence, responsibilities, happy revelations, sad findings, self-discoveries, getting bitten by various 'bugs', freedom, liberties coming with a lot of self-control/discipline, happiness, heartbreak, celebrations, fresh beginnings and some unfortunate endings, detachments and new attachments, tests (medical and the other kinds), medications, conquering old fears and battling new ones too, pride, possessions, separations, forging of some unexpected bonds, dreaming new dreams and fading away of a few, loneliness, expectations and acceptances, choices made willingly and some unwillingly, sense of loss and elsewhere belonging, overwhelming and reassuring love n support from all my loyal sweethearts :-)
could not think of a better way to end this post. so here's one gem of a poem (penned by a blogger friend Satyanshu Singh! the poem, story, script, lyrics, music, performances, the film 'Udaan' released in the year 2010 remain eternally precious to me).
छोटी-छोटी छितराई यादें
बिछी हुई हैं लम्हों की लॉन पे
नंगे पैर, उनपर चलते चलते इतनी दूर आ गए हैं,
कि भूल गए हैं जूते कहाँ उतारे थे ...
एड़ी कोमल थी जब आये थे
थोड़ी-सी नाज़ुक है अब भी
और नाज़ुक ही रहेगी
इन खट्टी मीठी यादों की शरारत
जब तक इन्हें गुदगुदाती रहे
सच..भूल गए हैं कि जूते कहाँ उतारे थे
पर लगता है अब इनकी ज़रुरत नहीं ...
all of today my mind kept wandering. sensing something amiss. maybe someone's birthday or anniversary or wedding or due date or launch or...phew! checked both my phones, my online diary. even logged onto FB after a week almost just so that i get some clue as to know why exactly this date seemed to linger on. nothing rushed to my rescue. then read an unexpected line in an unexpected mail from an unexpected sender and it all fell in place magically. "dimaag ki batti jal gayi" moment happened! :-)
i love 5th may just as much i love 10th april just as much i love hundred other dates etched in my memory for all sorts of reasons. one of those 'perfect' days full of 'perfect' moments. (not that the perfectness of it matters to me much. i love imperfections as much more often than not in people, places, preferences, situations. it keeps my interest alive! ;-)
one of the several perfectly magical moments i was blessed with that day is posted below. i cherish this pic a lot would surely be an 'understatement'!
photograph by Parag Mahale (May'09)
one of my adorable blogger friends - Mrs. Suranga Date, spotted this one on my profile more than a month back and penned a soulful ode to my sandals. the satire on her blog is something i look forward to always for all the tongue-in-cheek humour and insight she unfailingly provides with every post. you can't imagine just HOW surprised and full of glee i was when i read the verse :-) :-) have a look pretty please! Some sandals stick to the owner
absorbing every cut,
lash of cow dung
and wet mud,
keeping the feet
and the person
devoid of nerves...
like a good friend,
share the heat of the road
on a summer afternoon,
the stumble across
an innocent pebble,
inadvertent puddle thumps,
the little scratches
of stuff in the sand,
encouraging and waiting,
as you decide to get your feet wet
in some new waters
And when a
particularly big wave
of something arrives,
and you run back,
overcome by the foam,
but bravely facing up,
faithfully waiting for you.... - Suranga Date
and here's the link to it on her blog of poems. all of them are inspired by a broad spectrum of moments captured by different people. hope you enjoy them as much as i do! :-)