#SoCS March 28/2020

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Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “beside you.” Write about whatever is beside you when you read this prompt. Not when you sit down to write, but whatever is beside you right now. Take note of it if you think you might forget. Enjoy!

I am holding my mobile in my hand to check today’s prompt. I looked around to see what was beside me. I had been reading a delightful book called AMMA by Perumal Murugan. It has been translated from Tamil to English. This book is a collection of essays about the author’s mother. Every word expresses his love for his mother. They tell us what an extraordinary woman she had been. Her husband worked but was a drunkard. She had to shoulder the responsibilities of her family and she did it with courage in spite of all the difficulties she faced in life.

The essays that I have read till now made me smile and reminded me of school vacations spent in our maternal grandparents’ home in a small town. They reminded me of my father-in-law. In 2016, due to an operation he was with us for three weeks. I asked him whether he would share his memories with me. He was happy to do so. Every afternoon he remembered and I wrote them down. I had shared them with my relatives and friends then, with photographs. My father-in-law’s younger brother was an avid photographer. There are many albums in his house in Chennai. He passed away in 1980 but we used to go to his home to spend a few days with his wife and family. On such visit, I took photographs of all those black and white photographs.  This book reminded me of those days, my father-in-law’s memories and all those black and white photos. Those days were so different.

Now our world has turned upside down. When will it end? But one thing is for sure, life will never be the same again.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perumal_Murugan

 

 

Everyday Moments – Slice of Life #2020

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My weekly Slice of Life are my letters to my Doddamma. She is my father’s elder brother’s wife. Doddamma literally means ‘elder mother’. She is 88 years old. She cannot hear properly if I telephone to talk to her. So, I have been writing letters to her since October 2017. I enjoy writing letters and she is happy to read them. They are only about the everyday moments in my life. I post my letters to her every week.

24-03-2020

Our state, Karnataka is in complete lock down and our neighboring state, Kerala too. Our village is in that state and we cannot go there. The borders are closed. We last went on the 8th. We are just praying that my father-in-law will stay healthy. But nothing is in our hands, we have to take what comes our way. Till yesterday we were going for our evening walks to Endpoint where there is a wide road with no vehicles and very few people too. All colleges of our University are closed and students have gone home. But online teaching is going on. From today there is curfew and we will be confined to our homes. How life has changed ! Everything has turned upside down. Yesterday someone was saying it is time for us to go inside ourselves and think about our life. God knows what will happen in the next few months. Yesterday a photo was being shared on WhatsApp showing the globe and on it the words ‘closed for maintenance’. I wonder what will happen after the maintenance.

A little after I wrote the first paragraph we got a phone from my brother-in-law that my father-in-law was not well. At 11.15 he passed away. He would have been 95 on the 26th. Today morning after taking his bath he got an attack and my brother-in-law made him lie down on his bed. After a short time, he passed away. Due to the complete lockdown in both states my husband had to get special permission from the Police chief of our town. We wrote a letter asking for permission to travel. He also told that he would not be able to leave Kerala in the near future due to the spread of the virus there. Aravind, our son, has online classes to conduct and it is not possible for him to stay alone. Actually, since Sunday he has been learning to cook. In spite of being blind, my father’s mother and her sister were wonderful cooks. So I told my son learning to cook is not a problem at all. It is good to know basic cooking.  But, in these times of strict curfew it would have been difficult for him to manage alone.

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So, we both decided to stay back. My husband reached our village safely. The cremation will take place soon.

My father-in-law was loved and respected by all his near and dear ones and the sad part is only those who live in our village will be able to attend the last rites. In normal circumstances so many would have come to pay their last respects. What to do? We have to take life as it comes.

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( This was on March 8th)

 #SoCS March 21/2020

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Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “welcome.” Use it any way you’d like. Have fun!

The coronavirus is ruling the world. It is as if there are no boundaries that it cannot cross. I do not remember such situation wherein the whole world is down on its knees. My cousin was telling me there is a dullness in the air. I too had felt the same because there is always the fear of the virus. We have lost some of our freedom. I believe we all will welcome the day when we become free from the clutches of the virus. So many changes are happening in our lives and the best part is we are adapting ourselves to those changes. One instance, all over the world people are working from home. So many must have welcomed this as they would no longer have to worry about getting stuck  in traffic jams. What is amazing is our relatives in different parts of the world are discussing about this threat on WhatsApp.  I know discussion will not keep the virus away but the internet is helping us to be in contact with each other and helps us to exchange our thoughts.

On a lighter note my thoughts go back to my childhood when we welcomed summer vacations with great joy. My father was working in the Indian railways and we lived in the northern parts of our country. With the start of vacations, my brother and I would leave for or maternal grandparents home in a small town in South India. We had to spend three days in the train and we enjoyed the journey. We were welcomed by our grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins with great excitement. Two months of freedom from school 😊.  We returned only in the last week of our vacation feeling sad that we would have to wait for a year for our next vacation. All precious memories.

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Thoughts to ponder 😊

Love in the time of Corona.

(Since we are reading enough grim news about the virus, on a lighter note here are some good side-effects of the virus:)

Exams: We always believed exams are so important for children, we could not do education without this primitive humiliating ritual on children. Today we have seen it is possible to do away with it completely. Children got promoted to the next class without any stress of an exam…nothing bad happened!

Work from home: Work from home is an ideal solution for the traffic and pollution problems in a city like Bangalore, but we still believed (mostly the company insisted that) it was important to drive our car, burn fuel, waste a lot of productive time and go to an office to work, every single day. But when the Virus came we figured it is possible to work from home and still get work done.

eMeetings: Clients who always insisted on face to face meetings just discovered it is possible to have face to face meetings over Skype. It saves travel, time, biscuits, water, water bottles, coffee, tea, air-conditioning….so on.

Malls: We thought malls are the best place to unwind. Shopping, cinema, food, etc. There was a FOMO if you don’t rush to PVR and catch that stupid film on the first day. Today we found our home is best place to unwind. Especially when our children are around and they have no homework to do.

Weddings: We believed weddings should be grand, an opportunity to show off our social standing and wealth. Today we know it is possible to invite just 15 people and hold the event with simplicity and dignity.

Funerals: Funerals are now simple private moments for the close grieving family and close friends.

Prayers: We have learned to talk to God without actually going to a temple, church or mosque.

Birthday parties: OMG! We never thought our children can age without them. Today birthdays are quiet and meaningful family only events, where we celebrate the fact that our children are alive and healthy. Isn’t that what birthdays are all about, unlike a competitive sport among parents as it has become?

Traffic is less, city is quiet, families are together, home cooking is back, children are happy, spouses are talking again…it is love in the time of Corona.

Virus will go in a month or two. But we can hope some of these good habits we learned will continue…

(Sharing someone’s thoughts so beautifully articulated)

Everyday Moments- Slice of Life #2020

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My weekly Slice of Life are my letters to my Doddamma. She is my father’s elder brother’s wife. Doddamma literally means ‘elder mother’. She is 88 years old. She cannot hear properly if I telephone to talk to her. So, I have been writing letters to her since October 2017. I enjoy writing letters and she is happy to read them. They are only about the everyday moments in my life. I post my letters to her every week.

16-03-2020
Aravind was to go to Netherlands in May to teach for a week in Netherlands. He is Assistant Professor in the Department of languages of our university. He and my husband went to Bangalore for the visa on the 9th night. Unfortunately, their bus had been cancelled, my husband had not checked the messages earlier in the day. Fortunately, they were given seats in the next bus. They reached Bangalore early morning on the 10th and went to my cousin’s home. Troubles never come singly. His appointment was at 11.30 and when they reached the given address, they found The Netherland office closed !! He was given appointment for 8.30 on the 11th morning. They reached the office at 7.45 and were told they would have to wait as the Netherlands visa officials had not yet decided about the revised visa fees. Both waited and waited, they had booked a day bus at 12.30 from the main bus station as they had been told work would be completed within two hours. But it did not. There was no time for them to reach the main bus station but the conductor was kind enough to tell them to go to another stop, my cousin’s driver took them to that stop and they got the bus😊. They reached home at 9.30. As I had said troubles never come singly. Now the whole trip has been cancelled due to the outbreak of coronavirus. The visa fee was non-refundable! My Doddamma always says we should learn to take life as it comes.

While they were away, I went to Asare, Home for the mentally challenged spent time there. I have been going there thrice a week since 2011. On the 10th evening I went to my friend’s house to meet her mother who is her nineties. I have known her for a long time. Old age brings so many changes. We are lucky if are able to have the same interest in life that we had earlier. I watched Roman Holiday 😊, it is such a beautiful movie. I love all the scenes in it.

My neighbor gave me sour sop fruit which we call Lakshmana phala in our language. I like the taste. We had planted some seeds and saplings are growing in our garden. The curry leaves plant in our garden has got fresh leaves now. They look so green and beautiful.

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On the 13th we came to know there will be complete shut down of educational institutions in our state and elsewhere too.  Our grandchildren too are having holidays. Our grandson told his mother that they could come to India now 😊, why waste the holidays. Then she explained to him why it was not possible.

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The coronavirus has become a world wide web.

We are going for our evening walks, either to End Point or to the lake. We very rarely miss them.

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I am stitching  a blouse for my sari, I enjoy stitching 🙂

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https://www.chikitsa.com/lakshman-phal-benefits

#SoCS March 14/2020

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Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “wire.” Use “wire” as a noun or a verb or any way you’d like. Enjoy!

The word wire brought to mind telegraph wires. I remember those days when my parents became apprehensive if the postman said there was a telegram for them. In those days a telegram usually meant bad news. But people sent their good wishes through telegrams. I still have all those telegrams people sent for our wedding 😊 in 1982. There used to be a set of phrases that we could send. Unnecessary words meant waste of money.

The receiving of telegraph messages was a familiar sound in post offices. I remember that day when we were in the post office and the post master told us that telegrams were soon to become a part of history. Telephone wires were becoming more popular and more convenient than telegraph wires. People could talk to each other, but still they were expensive. I remember my father-in-law always telling that we should talk to the point over the phone 😊. But now we prefer talking to people because writing letters is a forgotten art. And somehow it seems more personal than WhatsApp messages.

Wireless technology made its appearance sometime in 2002 in our place. In the initial days we found it very funny listening to people talk to others on the roads or somewhere in the public. The different stages of mobile phones in our life will be an interesting study. Now they have become such an important part of our lives that we worry if we do not have it at all times. It is sad to see people in groups talking to someone far away and not with each other. We have so much at our fingertips. My father-in-law was filled with wonder about the changes that have happened in life. He will be 95 soon. He used to say that in the first fifty years of his life there were hardly any changes, life went on as it had for generations.

But in many ways I believe in the words of Alphonse Karr, ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.’😊

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( The words in ink were written by my father to identify who had sent the telegrams.)

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Everyday Moments- #SOL 2020

slice-of-life_individual
My weekly Slice of Life are my letters to my Doddamma. She is my father’s elder brother’s wife. Doddamma literally means ‘elder mother’. She is 88 years old. She cannot hear properly if I telephone to talk to her. So, I have been writing letters to her since October 2017. I enjoy writing letters and she is happy to read them. They are only about the everyday moments in my life. I post my letters to her every week.

10-03-2020
On the 7th I talked with my Doddamma. She cannot hear properly. She said she was very happy to read my letters. I felt very nice when she said that. She is my favourite relative.
This week, on the 4th ,I went to the hospital. I was having an uncomfortable sensation in my right ear. Fortunately, it was a minor problem. Waiting for my turn I read The Indian Empire at War  by George Morton Jack. A fascinating book.  On the 6th I had to go for a dental check-up. Fortunately, minor problems. Hospital is a different world and we always hope that we never have to go there.

On the 26th morning a friend and our book club member passed away. She had been suffering from cancer and was in lot of pain. On the 18th I had gone to see her. In spite of the pain we talked about books. Earlier she wished to read some Enid Blytons. I had taken them for her. She donated her body to our Medical college. She had told us her father had done the same. On the 5th her husband and close friends had organised a wonderful evening celebrating her life. So many spoke about her. She was just 61, certainly not an age to die.

20200308_082241About two weeks ago bulbuls were trying their best to build their nests inside the house. I kept the windows closed for some days. Now they are not coming, hopefully they have found a better place to build their nests.

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On the 7th we sold our coconuts at the shop in our town. We got Rs 35 per kilogram. This has been the best rate that we have got for a long time. We have ten coconut trees in our garden. We sold a little more than 80 kgs. It is ok for us because we do not depend on it for our living. But for all those farmers life becomes difficult when they do not get good returns for all their hard work.  Tender coconut water is very tasty and the soft white fruit is tastier. We sometimes buy them on our way back home. The water and the fruit are very refreshing.

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On the 8th we went to our village to spend time with my father-in-law. I don’t know whether he recognised us. My father-in-law was listening to classical music in YouTube. I was sitting near him after finishing the cooking . He has cataract and cannot see. At his age he cannot be operated. A few years ago he had been operated in one eye but it did not really help him. He was such an active person, I was feeling very sad looking at the changes that age brings. God knows what is in store for us. All around us changes are happening. Anyway, we have to face what comes our way.

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Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
Lao Tzu

#SoCS March 7/2020

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Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “figure.” Use the word “figure” any way you’d like. Have fun!

We were at a book shop buying books as gift to a little girl. My son bought a Junior encyclopedia for his nephew and coloring books for his niece. One of the colouring books had different geometrical shapes. They reminded me of enjoying geometry in school. But all other branches of mathematics filled me with dread. Those figures were the bane of my life.

The word bane came to mind because I had been re-reading some parts of The Lord of the Rings. It is one of my favourite books. I read it for the first time in 1994. Our son has Retinitis Pigmentosa from birth. I love books and I did not want him to miss out the world of books. I read to him from the moment he could understand books. In fact, I lived my childhood again with him. In 1994 he was in class 4. I started reading to him Lord of the Rings. It took us forty days to finish the book. He loves the book and has a very good BBC adaptation of the book.

Coming back to mathematics, solving compound interests filled me with terror. I found it very difficult to figure out how to solve the problems. After passing class 10, we could opt for our choice of subjects. My first act was to drop mathematics from my life 😊. I had been waiting for the day.

Everyday Moments, SOL 2020

slice-of-life_individual
My weekly Slice of Life are my letters to my Doddamma. She is my father’s elder brother’s wife. Doddamma literally means ‘elder mother’. She is 88 years old. She cannot hear properly if I telephone to talk to her. So, I have been writing letters to her since October 2017. I enjoy writing letters and she is happy to read them. They are only about the everyday moments in my life. I post my letters to her every week.
My letters to my doddamma are about our trip to Amritsar and Dharamsala between 1st and 9th of this month. So I am sharing the same in my Slice of Life post.

Last two days of our vacation- 8th and 9th January, 2020

We had an early breakfast in the hotel. We tried Tibetan bread. It would have been good as a snack with a cup of evening tea but not for breakfast. It was raining and we had been told that if it rained for some more days it would snow. We could see that snow had fallen on the hills nearer than the previous day.

8th (20)

8th on the way to A (4)

We wanted to leave at 8.30 but could start at 9.30. The driver was Rajesh, who had taken us around the previous day. As we left the hills the rains too stopped. We stopped for a cup of tea at a roadside eatery.

8th tea stop

We drove through small towns and villages. We saw fields on both sides. Oranges and guavas fresh and from the trees were being sold on the roadside. We bought 2 ½ kgs of oranges for Rs 100. Two big guavas weighing a kilo for Rs 100. We did not stop for lunch but drew up at a roadside cart where an old man and his grandson were selling guavas. He cut them into four pieces and added chat masala. It was very tasty. This is one of my favourite fruits.

8th way back to A (6)
We had booked a room in the same hotel near the Golden temple. The driver had to ask for directions but we reached the hotel 😊. Aravind had got two books for our friend, Shri Gurjinder Brar. We sent them by courier because he lives far from Amritsar. One was a book by Prof H S Shivaprakash, titled The Word in the World. It is a collection of essays on Indian culture. The other was Dhvani and Epiphany, a collection of essays on Indian Aesthetics by Prabahkar Acharya.

8th square (2)

We rested for a while and then set out to the square outside the Golden temple and to Katramal Jaimal Singh wholesale shopping area. On the way we were stopped by cycle rickshaw drivers who charged Rs 10 per person for the 1-km ride but we preferred to walk. We were told the shopping area was near the Partition museum. We walked with the crowd looking at the shops. It was so crowded. We did not buy much except for a cotton shirt. Many of the shops were the branded ones and there was no point in buying clothes as those shops are to be found in our place too.

Earlier we had read about Brothers Dhaba. It was nearby and we walked in. Being in Amritsar we wanted to taste chole bature. But that day what we wanted was not on the menu. The waiter was very nice enough to tell us about a very popular eatery called Shri Krishna Mishthan Bhandar nearby. He told us we would get chole bature there. The place was just two minutes away. There was big tree and in its shade were chairs and tables. Snacks were being fried on one side and sweets were displayed and packed on another. The place was packed and food was being consumed at a furious pace 😊. A little away a dog was barking away demanding food. We decided to have samosas, lassi and chole bature. They were tasty 😊. I liked the carrot pickles. It was very cold and we walked back to the hotel.

8th (2)

We rested for some time and went to Harmandir Sahib. We sat near the Akal Takth till 8 o’clock. We were feeling too full to go to the langar hall for food but we could not resist Kada Prasad. It is very tasty.
Sitting in the Golden temple complex is an experience of a life time. We were happy that we could experience it almost everyday of our stay in Amritsar. This was possible because our hotel was just two minutes away.

8th (6)
On the 9th morning we left the hotel at 6.30. There was so much fog that we could hardly see the road but the driver knew his way. We reached the airport safely. The honey bottle was in our hand luggage and we were told that we should check it in. We packed it well in another bag and checked it in and kept our fingers crossed. The flight left at 8.20 and we were in New Delhi by 9.15. Our flight to Mangalore was at 2.05. But time passed quickly and we were on the last leg of our journey. I enjoy looking out down from the window of the plane. The clouds look like another world. As we were nearing our destination, it was a pleasure to look at the greenery and a little further on the coastline and rivers joining the sea.

9th from plane (3)

We landed at 4.45 and collected our luggage. Keeping our fingers crossed had not helped 😊. There was no bottle, only fragments of glass soaking in honey inside the cover. I was worried the glass pieces and honey would have spread and ruined my shawl but fortunately that did not happen. We were not destined to taste honey from the Himalayas ☹.
We took a pre-paid taxi from the airport at 5.15 and were home by 6.30. It was good to be back after a wonderful holiday except for the lost honey !

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guava
https://www.tarladalal.com/Chaat-Masala-(-Chaat)
https://www.tarladalal.com/Chole-Bhature

(Yesterday morning we were surprised when it started raining. The weather had become very hot but we never expected rain. It rained from 7 to 8.30. We later learnt that it had rained in different parts of our state. It is very unusual to get rain in march.)

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#SoCS Feb. 29/2020

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Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “ect.” Find a word with the letters “ect” in it, and base your post on that word. (Not to be confused with “et cetera,” which is “etc.”) Enjoy!

The letters ‘ect’ brought to mind the word respect. And that brought to mind my father-in-law. He is a person who loves to keep in contact with all his relatives. He is interested in them as individuals. He is respected and loved by all who come into contact with him. He is going to be 95 soon. Physically he is fine for his age but he does not remember most people who come to meet him. He cannot connect with them. They too feel sad and he too feels sad. He realises that he cannot remember them. We change so much as we grow older. Many a time I wonder what is in store for us. We have to our best to keep ourselves fit, physically and mentally and leave the rest to God.

On a lighter note, I remember my elder brother’s first experience at dissection. This was in the seventies. He had opted for Biology in high school. He and his classmates had to dissect a mouse. That was his first and last day in the laboratory. The very thought of cutting open an animal was beyond him. The next day he left Biology and took another subject 😊.
So many more words come to mind but I think I will stop here.