Albums and trunks, clearance or remembrance!

OF ALBUMS AND TRUNKS IMG_5699

I thought I would clear some clutter before the new year came in. Little did I think that it was going to be a crying jag of epic proportions.

IMG_5702Trunks: those wonderful things that store everything – I have many – and I thought to get rid of them!! Obviously I didn’t – to start –  it was the girls’ old files – report cards and letters – I was not able to throw out a single one. Then I found an old folder of all the cards that I had kept from my wedding – half those people are gone, but seeing those messages – obviously I just sat there, cried and packed them back into the folder. Backward in time to my own school files and dimmed letters from my grandfather, the ink is faded but the messages remain in that tiny scrawling hand, so many words of wisdom that carried me all this way.

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A dancing Bare Moms

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And dancing parents!

Followed the albums, ancient history, a whole story and so many memories. What a vast family I have, so many, many people that all come together to that one me! It constantly amazes me that I am the only person who has all of these people. Parental doubles, grandparents in quadruples, oh so many aunts, uncles, siblings.

An accident of birth, an accident of circumstance, an accident of plenty yet not any. To belong to so many people, yet to not wholly belong to any – it alternates between a blessing and a craving.

For the longest part of my life I wanted a place and a space that was answerable to none. Today I have it and love it, but, occasionally it throws up that odd alone feeling. This weekend was one such. Do I forget my family or does my family forget me? Probably all in my head and just the memories making me nostalgic and maudlin. 

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A little Maya

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A little Rifq

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Sisters!

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Youth.

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Friends, the dancing ones.

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Bombay: Nostalgia and memories

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The Gateway of India

Bombay, for the last few years I have been coming to a different Bombay – what I knew as the suburbs, but where all the young ones, including my daughters live. This time the girls are not here and I am in old haunts and it is a trip down memory lane. Just how much I realised when I was sitting by the window of my beautiful old room in the yacht club, overlooking the Gateway of India and saw the Naval ensign flying off this venerable old building. Obviously I opened the window and tried to peer through the trees to see what was on. That’s when I heard the announcement for the beating retreat ceremony to be held there forthwith. It is a ceremony that I love, with the marching bands and the melodies. Imagine it in this setting, with the backdrop of the harbour and the ships.IMG_5558

I ran down and out into the street to see what I cold see. Naval personnel all over the place, for an instant, I actually thought of going up to the entrance and talking my way in. Then I looked around at the milling throngs and decided I had been in the enclosures often enough. This time I was going to be just one of the crowd peering in.

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The Naval ships lit up

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Helicopter fly past

Found a great vantage point on the median of the road in front of the Taj Hotel. I had to crane my neck to actually see much, but I could hear the music and I could see the colours of the sunset. The helicopters arriving and doing their bit, I realised I didn’t actually have to see any of it, my minds eye relived it all from so many times, but just the fact of being there – in that place at that time. The haunting melody of ‘Abide with Me’ and the naval ships in the harbour turning on their lights. I think all my ‘naval brat’ friends will understand exactly what I mean, there is a poignancy to the whole; pride and a belonging along with a sense of nostalgia.

That this was to occur just the day that I chose to be here, happy chance!

I am now sitting in the bar at the Yacht club, overhearing snippets of sailing conversation, some gentleman trying to get a pretty, scared lady to go sailing. I look around at the memorabilia of sailing lore and think how much I love the sea. I think i shall go sailing one of these days while I am here.

I am so glad I decided to stay here rather than with family and friends. It reiterates for me that thought that comes so often, how being alone can be such a blessed state. Though I would have taken that buggy ride if there had been someone to share it…..so….

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Lit in tricolour

The fortune of my life that throws up these magic moments makes me sure to thank the powers that be for the enchantments.

PS: My photographs are just for story telling not for their great quality!!

The great Taj Mahal Hotel

The great Taj Mahal Hotel

The buggy rides.

The buggy rides.

The written and the read.

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I received the most touching mail wishing me well with my new found love.
However, my little anecdote is not about a one love, but the discovery that I still have the capacity to throw my heart over a windmill and perhaps not worry about whether it lands in the right place. Just experience the emotion and the euphoria of doing it, without counting the cost – and most importantly the discovery that the cost is not what matters at all. It is the enjoyment of the feeling; whether it is fleeting or lasting must be left in the hands of the Gods.
I say that quite deliberately, because the moment you start to anticipate the where, what, how, what if ? It’s finished, it’s lost, the euphoria is gone. All those human things will creep in, the doubt, the uncertainty, the wanting, the needing, to have, to hold. With that dissapears the essence of that pure, soaring flight. Why would you want to do that? Also that is what prevents you from throwing that heart over in the first place. Caught for a moment, caught forever, who knows?  If one does it often enough maybe it will entwine with another such floating feeling and fly forever.
Also the learning that no matter what the age, love feels very much the same, there may not be as much angst to it with experience, because perhaps you, like me, can discover it to be a many splendoured thing, but it can be as silly, as electrifying, as embarrasing and as euphoric at 18 and at perhaps 80.
So in short, no my friend, I still have not found the man who will walk beside me and I wasn’t even looking. But now I think, if I can risk it then perhaps there is somewhere out there ‘The Passionate Shephard’ type of man who will risk saying those magic words too.

Of bubbles and glee!

In continuation and conclusion: I met a man ….. and then he went.

But that euphoria – the sparkle in the eye, the bubble of glee in the throat ready to break into a chuckle of remembrance – all of that stays. Songs are more melodious, the trees are brighter and the breeze lifts your heart. What a tonic this thing is.

Why? What do you call it? Science says endorphins, brain synapse, chemical reactions or whatever. Most call it love or more realistically infatuation, ok let’s stay romantic and say an itty bitty love. Is it the giving of love, the receiving of love, the excitement of discovery, liking being liked?

I have a super life, great children, many people to love and be loved by, a lovely home, work that makes me happy. Not a thing that I can say is missing. I don’t even have a man growing old next to me, needing reminding of pills or whatever, and I do like the songs and the trees and the breeze does still lift my heart anyway.  Yet a man can come along and make the blood sing and the feet dance.

How long does that last if you keep the man? (or the woman in reverse, I am quite certain it works both ways.) That’s such an awful question, but it’s real. Some have it, the books say soul mates or old connections. Or the fact that you work it. And the whole world looks for it, writes, sings, dreams, cries for it. Obviously, look how bright it makes the day!

I think it is just a bit of magic that one needn’t question at all. It should happen every so often. I like that singing, dancing feeling.

The parents, 50 years!

Landmark events make for remembrance. It was our parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary and I was laughing out loud at what a roller coaster ride it has been for all of us.

Then came the flood of little memories:

My grandparents huge rambling garden in Patiala. I was a very little girl and my mother was walking me around the garden ostensibly to teach me my tables. We walked through the rose garden and I learnt about Crimson Queens, Sunflares, Tea Roses and rose -water; onto the lawns and the profusions in the beds offered hollyhocks and Sweet-peas, Talking Antirrhinums or Snapdragons that opened and closed their mouths and could tell stories. The pixies that lived in the rockery and the fairies that lived in the flowers. Finally we discovered a water pipe feeding a flower bed and, there , where the water hit that lovely brown mud was a little hillock of rippled chocolate effect. That is all it took, we sat there for the rest of the morning making mud cakes and creating a little garden-world of stories.

I still don’t know my tables, but I know moments, dreams, beauty and life.  I think it carried me farther than the tables, thanks my mommy.

Then there is the memory of the most unique driving lesson a girl could have. The emptiest, straightest, safest stretch of tarmac my father could find was the runway at the Dabolim airport in Goa. That he was commanding the airbase at the time was obviously a necessity. So there we were, one orange ambassador, my daddy and I at the start of the runway: into first gear and we bucked into motion, into second which was smoother, third was a piece of cake, cruising, then he say ‘see that line there, now put it into fourth, that is where you step on it, get to fifty and take off.’ We went racing down that runway and almost fell off the cliff at the end, driving lesson or flying, I don’t know what he imagined,  but I am still flying!

I think every girl has a swash buckling hero in a dream somewhere. Just what do you do when they come larger than life?

She lived at 5 Safdarjang Lane in Delhi and he was a flying instructor at Jodhpur. How was he ever going to woo this amazingly beautiful woman that he had met?

He did it. Almost every Saturday morning as she sat on the lawn or the verandah, reading her book, a roaring fighter jet would do a low fly past, waggle it’s wings and disappear to land at the Safdarjang Airport. Soon after this swashbuckling man with a flying helmet under his arm would come calling.Uff! And we get excited with motorcycles.

They still make the most beautiful, if volatile, couple and I think I speak for all of their children and grandchildren when I say we are extremely proud to belong with them.