Sometimes, one gets this one hour when a machine is busy measuring some data. You can’t go anywhere for the fear that the machine responsible will report this to your boss (and the machine probably doesn’t even notice you’re there) and you can’t do much sitting in front of a screen that shows a graph being plotted at snail’s pace. So, you “switch off” from the machine screen and reminisce……….memories that bring a smile on your face, in spite of the fact that you were too small or too dazed or too tutored to make much of those events when they happened. I have some fond ones……..
……one of my favourite ones is of all the frocks my mother stitched for me (and my sisters). A silk cloth (mostly gifted by some relative or the other) was a prized possession. We pestered our mother for stitching frocks out of that for us. Relatives, being as thoughtful as they were, gifted a big roll and as luck would have it, we sported frocks made out of the same length of material. All three of us dressed: Same to same! I wish I had photos of those times, which brings me to my next memory.
…….family photo!!!!!!!! The once in a year affair I dreaded! And laugh at now! The family photo used to (invariably!) happen towards the end of the Summer vacation. We were dressed in our best dresses and taken to a studio. There used to be a (usually VERY tacky) background picture, of places we either would never see in our life (okay, I did get to see some like that in life eventually!) or care to see. It would usually be a Bungalow with a brook flowing in front of it, a wooden bridge on the brook and a very picturesque Fall setting! Never mind that India doesn’t have Fall colours! The part I dreaded the most during this photo-shoot was the stiffness with which we were expected to stand and not make ANY noise (like the noise would spoil the photo, DUH!). All our photos have us in different stages of moroseness. And the moroseness gradually transformed to rebelliousness and FINALLY, we got our own camera! So this annual photoshoot affair stopped!
……the Yashica camera we possessed! This HAS TO BE one of my fondest memories! We took a calculated number of photos on Birthdays or outings to parks. We finally had REAL settings behind us! We were (obviously!) not allowed to touch the camera and the 36 photos in one roll were precious (unlike the Digital age of today when you can click away to glory!!!). It would greatly upset my father if we ‘spoiled’ any of the photos by laughing, or looking here or there.
……our first refrigerator. I can swear that I polished the ‘Kelvinator’ written on it at least once a day to keep it shining! A fridge of our own was a matter of great pride and I remember boasting about all the “frost” gathering in the freezer to whoever would listen! I missed no opportunities to come up to the fridge and eat some of the frost! More importantly, I felt great at lending a hand to my mother for the ‘weekly’ cleaning of the fridge. The cold water in summers was a blessing and we never bought another fridge! The old green thing with it chipped paint and meshed rear side still is in our house
……picking ber and imli with my brother. I have such vivid memories of being on the lookout for the keeper of the gardens next to our school while my brother picked bers and imlis. As soon as I saw the keeper, I was to indicate it to my brother, who had to then climb down as fast as possible and escape with me. I never saw even as much as a sign of the keeper but we were perennially ready to bolt. I can swear to God that bers and imlis bought from the market never taste the same and, of course, cost money!
……our first TV!!! This was an event I will never forget. The TV came to our house on a Wednesday evening at 7:00 and Dad was determined to watch the 8:00 pm chitrahaar on it. Many a scoldings later, it was plugged and switched on. I remember watching grey and black strips moving up the screen for solid one hour and we got to see the end of Chitrahaar finally.
……Ramayan and Mahabharat on Sunday morning!!!!!!! This surely has to be one of the clearest memories I have. We used to get strict instructions for finishing breakfast before 9:00 am (which used to be idli and dosa, a delicacy for us, a weekly affair). Mom didn’t want any ‘disturbances’ when Ramayan and Mahabharat were on TV. She was very particular about taking a bath before watching these serials (like anyone in TV noticed or cared! ). I know of some families (in our neighbourhood) lighting agarbatti in front of the TV when Ramayan was aired! I also remember the “war” where the ‘funnily shaped’ arrows “met” mid-air with flares of all sorts (thanks to B. R. Chopra and Ramanand Sagar!). The serials were so effective that Arun Govil is still “Ram” for my mother and Deepika Chikhalia “Seeta” I’m sure Goga Kapoor was the most hated man in the country back then!
……Birthday cakes! I can never ever forget those hold-you-breath moments when the cake came out of pressure cooker (these are pre-oven days, people!). Sometimes, we used to get a rock solid cake which would kill anyone if thrown at them! Most times, we were lucky. As the birthdays neared, we used to wait for Mummy to go shopping for eggs and maida. And needless to say, we were all too willing to ‘help’ her with beating the eggs (a job we’d normally hate ).
……the handful of toys. I remember having been given only one doll. It closed its eyes when put flat and her hair was blonde (I didn’t know back then, of course, that I’d one day live in the land of blondes!). I used to love to comb her hair and Mom would stitch clothes for her (on our vehement insistence, of course)! I can’t even begin to describe my anger when I realized that my sister had cut off the beautiful blonde hair of my only doll!
……Campa, Limca, Gold Spot and Thums-Up. Getting a full bottle for yourself was a BIG treat that was to be graphically explained to every single friend in school the next day! We usually used to get 1/3rd of the bottle, in a steel glass, something that we’d sip on for 2 hours!
……imli chooran sold in front of the school. This has got to be the most coveted thing during my 8th to 10th year of life! The chooran seller would put a spoon-full in a newspaper and hand it to us. To enjoy it thoroughly, the chooran had to be licked. One needed to wet one’s finger with saliva, stick it in the chooran and eat the chooran that stuck to the finger! For 25 paise, the guy would give about 50 g of chooran and that was a thing to be shared with all the friends! How I loved the kaala chooran and mixed chooran!
……circus! Going to a circus needed a taxi-ride in Mumbai, something I so loved back then! We had a CAR to ourselves and the driver took us where we wanted to go! This was a BIG thing and gave me such immeasurable joy! Circus also meant getting an ice-cream (usually an orange or coconut lolly!) to myself. The elephant, the lion, the trapeze artists…….it was the height of ecstasy for all of us!
……the Annual Day Celebration! The auditions for the dance in Annual Day was a nerve-wrecking experience and I remember how I pestered my mother into stitching a frock for my ‘two-line’ part in a play. I just had to come out of the ‘bheed’ and say “Shame shame, the emperor has nothing on his body. Shame shame”. I have not the faintest idea what transpired in the rest of the play! All that I cared for was that I had a blue and red silk frock with golden buttons! Such simple things gave us joy back then!
So, what is your most precious memory?