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Home is Where the Heart is #AtoZChallenge

Home is Where the Heart is #AtoZChallenge

Home is where the heart is! Surely you must have heard this famous proverb. And that makes me wonder, where exactly is my heart? Is it in the home where I grew up and lived 25 years of my life, the place where I played and spent those blissful childhood days? Or is it in the home I live in now?

Years back….

My childhood days in the eighties and nineties were spent in a palatial bungalow in Bangalore. Life was far simpler then and Bangalore was an entirely different city too. Sans traffic, noise and pollution, the city would be full of blossoming trees. I grew up as part of a big joint family in this large home of ours. I consider myself lucky to have been part of such a huge family that lived together. The home had a huge front lawn and a backyard where there would be a washing stone (I wonder if homes still have those stones, with the advent of washing machines). Growing up was fun amidst grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins galore. We were a total of 15 members in the home and we all shared a common kitchen!!!!!

But as the years passed, the family slowly broke away. My matriarchic grandmother, the old owl of the family passed away. It was like as though the roots of a majestic tree had all of a sudden been cut off. The next gen sought better opportunities and moved to different parts of the globe. The other elders in the family moved on to live with their own children. My father however continued to remain in our home until his last breath. In fact the only thing he wished for, when his cancer was diagnosed as terminal was to be in our home till the end. Dad is no more today. Our good old home in Bangalore stands vacant. What once was a witness to beautiful memories, relationships, joys and sorrows, it is now nothing but a dilapidated old house.

Where am I now?

It has been over ten years since I have left my childhood home in Bangalore. Married to an Officer in the Armed Forces, transfers and movements have become a constant affair. I have moved close to nine houses in my 12 years of marriage. And as much as I put in the effort to make every living quarter I live in seem like home, somewhere deep down that element of emotional attachment isn’t quite there. It’s just a roof under which I live and spend moments with husband and kids.

My heart still lies in Bangalore, though it is now nothing but a mere house!!!!

Image: Calvin and Hobbes-Bill Watterson
Bonding With Your Child- When Do you Do it? #AtoZChallenge

Bonding With Your Child- When Do you Do it? #AtoZChallenge

Bonding with your child is building that emotional connect. It is when you and your child are together, doing practical things or whatsoever, bringing about a wonderful connection. Being the mom of two little ones, I spend hours doing things with them. So between all my daily tasks and work, and the kids school and extracurricular activities, there are activities thrown in. From craft work, to gardening or, simply just lazing on the bed with a book in hand, the girls and I love these moments as we giggle, laugh and smile away.

Bonding is essential to create lasting memories

But when I look back at my childhood days, I don’t remember my Amma doing any of the activities that I do, with my kids. Yet, there is a beautiful bond that she has created, and memories that would last a lifetime. Those were the days before the great internet revolution. Those were the days, well before the digital era. Those were the days before fast-food culture could take us by storm.

My earliest memories of Amma are of her being the busiest person in the household. I remember the kitchen lights going on at 5 in the morning, when Amma would begin her day. It would go off only by 11 in the night, well after the entire family had retired to bed. Yet, there wasn’t a moment when she complained, looked hassled or looked tired.

Joy in everyday things

On most afternoons, Amma would be busy making home-made snacks and savories. I would sit on the kitchen platform, as she narrated folklore and mythological tales of kings and Gods. I distinctly remember the months of February and March every year, when Amma would prepare rice crispies. I would be put in charge to guard the neatly laid out rice crispies that were to be dried in sun, from crows, before being stored in airtight containers. Sundays meant an elaborate oil bath, and as she would comb my hair, seated on a mat in the warm afternoon sun, we would listen to the radio and hum away old Hindi songs together. Somewhere she did it all so seamlessly. It wasn’t like as though she had set aside some time for us kids. She integrated it all in her daily life amidst all the other things she had to do.

Bonding isn’t about big gestures

And that’s what probably Amma did. It isn’t about doing elaborate activities together. It is in simple everyday stuff that we do, that make up our life. I don’t think Amma waited for any special occasion. She just blended it all so well, and the emotional connection just materialized.

Of Bitter Gourd Chips and Memories

Of Bitter Gourd Chips and Memories

This morning, as I was buying vegetables from the vendor in my colony, a very unusual thing happened.  I glanced at a pile of fresh bitter gourd. Something stirred within me, and in a flash of a second, I was transported back 25 years. I have always disliked this vegetable and seldom buy it. Yet today, it was something else…

Way back in the eighties, when life was far simpler, my family lived in big independent bungalow. I have been fortunate to have grown up as part of this large joint family. The home had a lawn in front, a backyard that had a washing stone (I wonder if these washing stones exist anymore, with the advent of washing machines). Growing up was fun amidst grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins galore. We were a total of 16 members living under the same roof and sharing a common kitchen!! As the years passed by, the next gen sought better opportunities to move to different parts of the globe. My grand mom, the wise old owl of the family, passed away too.  It was like the roots of a majestic tree had all of a sudden been cut.  The other elders in the family moved on to live with their own children. My father though, continued living in the home till his death last year. He had only one wish, when he knew his cancer was terminal, to die in his home.

A mere house now, it still stands tall in Bangalore- vacant! I seldom think much about it. So caught up are we in our daily lives that often we fail to relax, breathe and give a thought to what was once ours.

Today, the pile of bitter gourd took me back there. I remembered the grand “shrardam” ceremonies my grand mom was so particular about. Shrardam is a Tamil name for the function that is done in memory of a departed loved one. It is an elaborate affair, with an array of dishes that is prepared and served on banana leaves, to Brahmins, and then to the rest of the family. It is believed that the departed soul visits the home on that day. One of the dishes my mom used to prepare on this day was fried bitter gourd.

My dislike for the vegetable dates back to these days, when I used to push those fried rings right under the banana leaf I ate on.

bitter_gourd_chips

But my grand mom’s watchful eye would often foil my plan, and I would invariably end up gulping it down with a glass of water. I wondered- why would the departed soul want to eat bitter gourd? Wouldn’t he just stop coming back?

A faint smile crossed my face as these visions crept in my mind today. I bent down and picked up a kilo of the tender bitter gourd.  How I wish I had someone to tell me to eat it today. I came back home and fried them in rings, just the way mom would make it. They still tasted bitter, but there was a magical sweetness to it to today!!!!

Strange how something I disliked could actually trigger a plethora of fond memories.

So have you had an instance where something you disliked brought about a surge of emotions that were pleasant? Would love to know about it.

Image for representation purpose only. Source: www.awesomecuisine.com