Sunday, 9 October 2022


Navarathri 1978, at our place in New Delhi, West Kidwai Nagar.

No colour pictures then, and even black and white pictures were rare, not everyone owned a camera.

Anyone who has celebrated Navarathri with a Kolu knows the amount of work entailed. The preparation for the Kolu starts days ahead. My mother made it a point to make new paper garlands every year for decoration, adding to the ones collected and saved from previous years. Creating them was an art in itself, and we would all be roped in to roll the coloured paper flowers. (Guess who was the lone recalcitrant roller.)  

The dolls would be arranged only on white sheets laid on the steps to set off their bright colours.  The steps were usually makeshift, set up with trunks and boxes, but nonetheless perfectly aligned.
And on either side of the steps would be what could be termed as ‘parks’. Mud was fetched in and spread, fast sprouting seeds like methi were scattered to create fields and grass. 

Nothing new, but my mother started this when I was about 7 or  8. Almost 70 years ago. And she made these Kolu happen for almost 40 years.  

One year she made small dolls out of white clay and painted them with costumes, including swimsuits, and placed them on a pool made out of a dish of water. I was 8 then, and I remember it so clearly. 

Maiji says she made her first kolu when I was two. A few dolls placed on a small table, over a lace tablecloth. And a small kolam. As I grew, so did the Kolu, and the Kolam.

My contribution in later years was to carry out her instructions, so I used to help with the making of cardboard cutouts like temple towers etc. and painting them.
Just seeing her go at it would exhaust me.

Even when the family grew and her responsibilities increased, and later with my father’s parents joining us, she did not lose her drive. 
She would make laddoos at home to distribute with the manjal / Haldi kukmkum. 

And these dolls travelled, wrapped carefully in old clothes and newspapers in their own trunk box, with us to wherever my father was transferred….from Delhi, to Trichy, to Chingleput, to Madras, to six years  in Pondy where Maiji had the grandest kolus, …and back to Delhi.

This picture , so representative of Maiji’s  spirit, was used with an article on Navarathri as celebrated by South Indians, in the Indian Express published from Delhi, in 1978.

Thursday, 24 December 2015


It is an ongoing tussle between my domestic help Saroja and me.

I have told her to inform me if she is going to take a day off, so I am prepared mentally and somehow find the physical drive to do her chores. I never mind her taking the day off, (with her however it is invariably five days running) since she too has problems and may fall ill. It is just that she should let me know first thing in the morning.

 She always says yes, but from the time of the landline and 25 paise  per call from the public phone booth to now the days of the cell - she also has one  -  she never does. Giving her the telephone money to make calls never worked – she probably found a better use for it. Threats of cutting off the day’s wages never work either, she knows I won’t.
So there I remain, waiting till 8 am, and then going to our first floor balcony to check if she has cleaned the front gate and drawn the kolam – at which she is a champ. And if I see her kolam there or in our neigbour’s house, I relax and continue with my work in my office  - kitchen, that is.

But if she doesn’t then I have to start doing the vessels, clothes et al. And I do so with great energy and scolding her mentally for not calling early to let me know. Sometimes I have to fit the chores in to the schedule the days’ programme, like visits to the doctor, cooking for visitors and so on. My scoldings are no less vigorous than my hands as I scrub the vessels. And I tell myself, “Just wait till she comes, I’ll give her a piece of my mind for not calling me.”

On the second day, I am a little more prepared, for I have done the dishes the previous night, thinking if she comes she can do the rest of the work. No call, and she isn’t coming either. The clothes are scrubbed a little less vehemently, though the scoldings continue.

The third day I begin to wonder, while doing the floor, if the poor woman is very ill and can’t come to the phone, but then I tell myself, why can’t she ask someone else in the family to call. Her useless son is always hanging around outside our gate when she is working, instead of going about his job. Why can’t he come and tell me why his mother is absent, I grumble. High time I looked for another maid, I feel.

The fourth day comes but she doesn’t, and now I am weary with the chores, mine and hers, and begin to feel sorry for her, working here and in other homes, just doing the same tiresome chores to make enough money for her livelihood.

By the fifth day I am ready to fall on her neck and welcome her back.

No reprimands, no recriminations…..

Thursday, 24 April 2014


In full bloom
After a wait of five years, I got to catch this tree in full bloom today, with its soft cloud of yellow. I had tried to capture the way it bloomed for just a day, followed it day by day here.

Now I am content.

Saturday, 11 January 2014


I wrote this last year when my granddaughters came for a holiday with their parents, and left.
This year  my other grandchildren came and stayed, and left a couple of days ago.
Deja vu.

No screams
No tears.
No shouts,
No laughs.
No giggles,
No joy.
Granddaughters have left,
How empty is the nest

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Nothing works as well as flattery.

I fall for it, flatly, each time. 
Some weeks ago I had this lovely comment on my latest (then) blog.
 Aparna K.S. said...
"I enjoy your pics and words alike. Thought I will express it this way..."

Pleased with this remark, I took a peek at the link and was delighted to see that Aparna had seen fit to pass
on to me an award, which had been passed on to her from a blogger, in turn to be shared with ten other bloggers.
The award is the Liebster award, and  I quote from her post.

 “The Liebster Blog Award: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, and
lovely. Started in Germany (probably) & is used to highlight new/recent/lesser known blogs or let say blogs
with less than 200 followers.(Though the original rules have changed a bit, the purpose is same - highlight
fellow bloggers' works and appreciate each other's works)

Here's a brief on how this award works:

*   Link back to the persons blog that have nominated you
*   Nominate 10 bloggers whom you feel are deserving of more subscribers & pass the award on to them.
*   Answer all questions posted by the nominator
*   Create 10 questions for the nominees
*   Contact the nominees and let them know that they have been nominated for the Liebster”

First things first. My nominator
Thank you, Aparna.

And now my turn to nominate -  I am nominating the following bloggers  to pass the award on to. No, there are no ribbons or medals
or pretty tokens, sorry,  just the award.

 Next come the questions I have to answer. My answers in italics.
                1. If God gave you another chance to live your life all over again, which one thing would you like to
                Occasions when I have been unintentionally rude to people.
                2 One act of kindness that you encountered.
                When a co-blogger chose me for an award and kick started me into blogging again.
                3One moment that you felt indebted to your creator…
                Always, for what He has given me.
                4 Is variety confusing?
                Only enough to make it interesting.
                5. One ingredient that makes a good listener…
                Silence (non-interruption) when the other person is talking
                6 Which one of these two you do faster: thanking people or apologising?
                Equally quick.
                7,. Ageing gracefully’ – What does this mean to you?
                Accepting not just myself as I am, but others as they are, without trying to change them
                8. If you are allowed to make one change to the ways of the world, what would you   like to change?
                Eradication of illness of any kind.
.               9. What constitutes a balanced life?
.               Happiness through good health and sufficient wealth.
                10. Has the internet globalised the world or polarised it?
                Definitely made it a smaller place.

My ten questions have been reduced to five for lack of imagination on my part. Pardon me if you find the
questions dull.
             1. What would you do to improve the condition of women in India?
             2. An opportunity you regret missing?
            3. If you were asked to choose one book as your companion for life?
            4. If you were asked to control prices of foodstuff where would you begin?
            5. If you were asked to set 10 questions, what would you feel like doing first? (I screamed in anguish)

 Now this is the reason I wanted to write for my blog again. A recognition , a small pat on the back, and I have
already posted one.

Let me see if I am able to maintain the pace.


Monday, 9 December 2013


My granddaughter Samyukta, all of four-and-a-half, has a story to tell. She drew the illustrations, and her mother wrote down the words as she narrated them. Proud me wants to share it with you .


Sunday, 17 November 2013

"Now, if this had been Chennai……."

It was a lovely black cardigan with little pearl buttons down the front, and I liked it a lot. My daughter-in-law Jaisri had given it to me when we went to Seattle for the first time in 1998. And it has seen me through our many visits. Soft to the touch and warm to the skin, it was ideal for a mild winter day.

And now I had lost it. I had taken it with me to Bangalore in January earlier this year, when we visited our son Sankar who was there with Jaisri and the children on a work related trip. It was a brief stay of about three days, but a very happy, fun-filled one. The weather stayed fine, and I did not need to use my black cardigan. We stayed in the guest apartment that they stayed in, and spent all our time with the two little girls, as happy and carefree as they.

Leaving them was a wrench, and it was sad to get into the train and seeing them getting smaller and smaller, waving as the super fast Shatabdi moved out of the platform.

The air conditioned coach remained comfortable and we relaxed in our seats, enjoying the coffee and snacks served en route. When it began to become a little too cool for comfort, I pulled out my cardigan and wore it. However when we reached Madras Central station, I found it was too warm, and I took off the cardigan and held on to it, while we waited our turn at the Fast Track cab counter. This is a cab facility where the customer tells the person at the counter where he wants to go and pays the fare in advance. We paid and rode home comfortably. Our driver was a quiet and friendly person, and we reached home quite quickly with not much traffic on the roads because of the late hour.

The famous cardigan
Then I realised I could not find my cardigan. I remembered I had been holding on to it, but could not clearly think what I had done with it. My best guess was that I must have left it in the car. I was ready to say a sad farewell to it, but not without making an attempt to locate it.

My husband had the receipt for the cab fare, and I called the number on it, and told the person at the other end the story of my lost cardigan. He was very polite and asked me to contact the person at the Central station counter, and gave me a number. The person at Central said he was sorry, but he was not on duty earlier, but if I told him the cab registration number he would see if he could do something. Since that was on the receipt, I was able to give it to him and he said I should call a number where I could get the number of the driver of the taxi.

By now I began to feel I was on a Mission Impossible, but decided to continue with the chase, even though it was quite late. After some attempts, I was able to connect to that number, and that person told me to go right back to the Central number since that was where we had picked up the cab. It required a lot of effort to keep my cool while I told him that the people at Central had given me the number, and could he please help. He told me he would see, and after much dilly dallying, gave me the number of the person who drove the car.

With a sigh of relief I called the number, but not with much hope of getting the cardigan back. In a previous instance I had left an expensive umbrella in a cab, and forgot to pick it up when we finished our trip, and that was the last I heard of it. The driver had claimed there was nothing in the car.

The person who now answered the phone said, yes he was the owner driver of the car with that registration number, but that somebody else was driving the car that day, but he would give me his number. And he gave me that number. I called the number, and got the driver. He remembered us clearly since we were his last fare, but said he could not check the cab then, as he had already parked it in the shed for the night. But he said he would look at it first thing in the morning, and if it was there he would bring it back to us at our place. I guessed that the shed must be somewhere distant from his home, and hence his reluctance to check then. But I did not have any hope of seeing that cardigan again. My husband who had been dissuading me from all the to-ing and fro-ing on the phone for he thought it was a lost cause, told me to forget it.

The following morning was Pongal, and we were up early. I heard the doorbell ring and wondered who it could be at 7 am. I opened the door and there was the driver from last night, with that cardigan. “Madam,” he said, “It had fallen on the floor, and that is why you did not see it.”

I was bowled over by his honesty and sincerity.

Courtesy Internet
Now I want to eat my words from the penultimate line of this post

"Now, if this had been Chennai……."