Thursday, 21 August 2008

Making Homes out of Nothing At all

       As a newly wed bride, I certainly did not realise the ingenuity required to make homes out of different structures and material. As far as 'innocent me ' was concerned, you make homes out of minimum 3-room set-ups that exist in concrete- which is your personal space, sometimes thrown open to entertain friends!

     However, the first home that I stayed in for a month was in Jullundhar, at a friend's house, whose wife had gone on a month's leave. She had left the Separated Family accommodation (SF in the Armed Forces  parlance) for us, to join her husband at Field location in Leh, during the summer vacation. Except for the linen nothing in the house bore my signature. After marriage I guess you give in to the instincts of playing 'house-house', and relive that game of your childhood.  I decided to curb this feeling for a more suitable structure. ( You see, married accommodations were hard to come by in a peace station)

     As the initial month came to an end, we moved into something that seemed like a train of rooms with a door that opened at the front, and another such hole at the back.When there was no electricity supply during the day, you might as well have played darkroom. But I was determined to play 'house-house'. So the first cavity was given the semblance of a living room.The next in sequence, was a long hall kind of space, that was divided into two parts with the kind consent of a rickety old wooden almirah.This served as the dining space and our 'bedroom' respectively. And as you continued your amble from the front door towards the 'back-hole', you would come across the kitchen that was just a hop away from the bed.
    After a tiring day's work of trying to bring about some kind of order to the place on the day we moved in, we decided to crash in early. Every joint was aching and all the nerves were tingling. We could have slept like logs. But Heavens had other plans. It rained that night. Apart from making noise on the tin roof the rains felt like playing 'catch-me-if-you-can' with us. We were caught unawares when a steady drip on the bed woke us up. We were running around the place with little bowls and big bowls to hold the dripping roof, a bucket( the only one we had), a frying pan etc. All the suitable belongings were given a different role to play. After all how much do you really own in the first two months  of marriage!!

       I was happy. It was my home. I would scrub, clean and do everything required to give it a squeaky clean look( domestic helps were hard to come by and in anycase they were a lot smarter than me). In spite of all my efforts the place refused to relent and gave out a strange musty smell. It baffled me , challenged my training in household matters. However, it was short lived as we moved into another dwelling after a fortnight. Later I was told, the 'train- of- rooms' was a horse stable during the British rule. That explained a lot of things !!

The one I moved into after this was a cute two room set-up, with an orange tree right at the doorstep. It also boasted of a hanky-sized lawn . The kitchen was so tiny that it could accommodate only one person at a time. But I fell in love with this place. I still consider that my best home.

Frankly these homes start growing on me, and I tend to shed a few tears when its time to leave and start all over again, at some other place. After three months, we were once again uprooted and hurled into the exotic land of Leh. This time , the challenge came in the form of a 'tin- fibre-wool' one room shed. Considering the altitude and climate of Leh, the space alloted to us was cosy and snug. Once again a partition came up to demarcate 'kitchen' and 'living room-cum-bedroom-cum-dining room-cum-TV room'. Again I was happy to modify it into a cosy nook and ahem..ahem...people found the shed quite pretty. We were all living under the same circumstances i.e., in Juggi Jhopdi ( JJ Colony).  I was proud of my home. Apart from the aesthetics, I was the proud owner of a sink in the kitchen( courtesy , my husband's resourcefulness which was activated once I told him " I Will Not Wash Utensils In The Loo. Bring Me A Sink Or I GO BACK)

I guess vanity has to pay its price. When we were at our home town, enjoying the last few days of the annual leave, we got a call from one of our friends in Leh, " Hey! When you come back, get some more woollens and blankets to see you through the winter. Your house was burned down and I can still see it smoking".

I cried . I cried not for having lost our belongings in the fire. I cried for having lost my 'home'. I cried, for not being able to take my newly born girl to her home. I couldn't have possibly taken her in severe winters ,when the temperatures plunged twenty degrees below zero, without the basics. Yes, those sheds were fire hazards but it was my HOME.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008


With 15th August just a few days away ,and Abhinav having won The Gold , we Indians are rejoicing in our Indian-ness. Is patriotism all about showcasing and proving our worth in the international arena? Sure, these glorious moments fill us with pride with a vengeance. Especially ,when you get to watch dismal scenes like cash-for-votes, read sordid stories on papers and all else that is wrong in this country. These are the moments in which we redeem ourselves vicariously, in the eyes of the world.

But that is for the world to see.I went to my daughter's school today( she's in play school). I saw several tiny tots rehearsing for their Independence day celebrations. They were trying to synchronise their movements to the beats of " chodo kal ki baatein kalki baat purani", "suno gaur se duniya waalon ..." And ofcourse they had their distractions , relapsing into I-don't-want-to-do-it attitude ,but the entire scenario was very heartening. I found myself reposing faith in this country through them. I am sure, this will be a recurrent scene in most schools till the I-Day .

Lets teach them not just to match steps with songs. Lets teach them that I-Day is also about not littering the roads everyday. Lets teach them to be friends with all, even if you don't understand his language. Show them your pride in your country through all your actions, and not just by buying him a flag at the traffic signal for a day.

Happy Independence Day!!!!!!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

No Horn please!!

     I am not very fond of driving. It is a necessity driven chore. I would rather sit and let somebody else do the job. Nevertheless, I am a part of the endless stream of contraptions of all shapes and sizes, that jostle for space on the road.If you thought that driving is symbolic of being in control- you are totally mistaken.

     I can move only if the person ahead of me decides to change gears. I am expected to move the moment the signal turns green .Never mind the fact that I am number ten in the line. The vehicles at the back, honk away to glory till you turn deaf. Was I supposed to fly over the ones in front of me? Or am I enjoying being in the middle of all that noise and having a picnic?I remember a particular incident when we were all stuck in a jam, at Outer Ring Road in Delhi. The car behind me wouldn't stop blaring the horn.I turned back to see a lady at the driver's seat. I signalled her to be patient. But she continued to honk for my attention. Finally I stepped out and gestured at the ones in front of me and asked her ," Udke jaaon kya?" I could see some of the other commuters sniggering and looking her way. That finally did it. But there are lots like her everyday , on the roads- taking away the little sanity you are left with.

    The traffic on the road reminds me vividly of a 'survival circus'. The big buses waiting to devour the smaller vehicles.The mighty big cars asking all others to make space for them.The two wheelers squeezing themselves at all odd angles and finding space out of nothing. The 'chinese checkers' players (I call them) who zig- zag through the lanes ,because they believe that there is a trophy for them if they reach two minutes ahead of the pack.

   The other day, we were out on the road with our two daughters at the back seat. It was evening and so the traffic was heavy yet again. And then I heard it. The car a little behind but adjacent to us, was unmistakeably honking at us. Gearing myself up, to glare at him I turned around. He smiled at me and gesticulated towards the backseat of our car and at the same time looked at my daughter and sucked his thumb. He was trying to tell her not to suck her thumb, which is a habit with her!
Well! people will honk for all reasons whether you like it or not.