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reflections

#SoCS Oct. 31/2020

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

The word ‘trick’ reminded me of those card-tricks which amazed us in our childhood. A relative would ask us to pick a card from the pack, we were not to show it to him. After a series of questions, he told us what card we had in our hand. It must have been a simple trick but we never figured it out. But it was fun.

When I think about cards, I remember those wonderful vacations we spent in our maternal grandparents’ home every summer. We all played a game called ‘Donkey’ and enjoyed ourselves. Our grandfather looked at us with indulgence.  Later on, in another place and time, we played ‘Canasta’ with cousins from my father’s side. My father taught us the game and we were crazy about it. We played it for hours in my aunt’s house. Now, I do not remember anything about the game except its name 😊. My father loved playing ‘Patience’ and his father, ‘Bridge’.

My grandmother passed away when my father was only twelve. They lived in small town where my grandfather was the head master in the Municipal Highschool. My father and his friends enjoyed themselves and had many tricks up their sleeves. I had asked him to write his memories and he did write them down. They opened a window to those long ago days.

In the 1940s there was a very popular Kannada magazine called ‘Koravanji’. My father and his friends waited for it with great excitement but its cost was four annas. In those days it was a big amount. None had the courage to ask their parents that money. My father found a method which never failed. My grandfather played Bridge with his friends in the club, in the evenings. On the day the magazine came to the book store, my father went to the club. He waited patiently and his presence disturbed my grandfather. When asked why he had come there, my father said just one word, ‘Koravanji’. My grandfather wanting him to leave the place, gave him the money immediately. With a big smile my father and his friends rushed to buy the magazine.  I told him that was a good trick indeed 😊.

Another incident in his childhood which always made him smile was about a Banni tree and the trick he played on his sisters. In those days, people worshipped the tree. Maybe they worship it now too. My father was in 5th std. All children walked to school from their homes.  There was a tall, old Banni tree not far from school.  During the time of examinations my aunts and their friends prayed and kept some eatables at the foot of the tree as their offerings to God. My father and his friends coming behind ate with relish what was kept there. They thought the girls would think that the God of the tree had accepted their offerings. But I am sure the girls were never fooled by the tricks played by mischievous boys 😊.

Banni Tree – Auspicious during Dasara festival

My father with his mother. He must have been seven or eight years. My grandmother passed away in 1943 at the age of 38. My father was 12.

Categories
Life Song of the Road

School and Beyond

My mother, Shantha Bhat’s memories of her childhood. My son, Aravinda and I translated it.

I started going to Bolvar school not very far from home. I do not remember its full name. We used to call it Bolvar shaale. I studied there till 5th std. I remember a teacher called Janaki. There was also a teacher who was popularly known as Bangaru master. He taught us Kannada. He was my mother’s cousin. I still remember him singing the song ‘Kaadiruvalu Shabari Ramabaruvanendu.’ This popular song was penned by the poet V Seetharamiah.

https://topics.revolvy.com/topic/M.%20V.%20Seetharamiah

I went to the 6th class at Board High school. We girls wore long skirts and blouse (udda langa Ravike) We had only two dresses for school and one to wear at home. They had to last for a year. Mid-April (14th/15th) we celebrated Vishu or New Year. On that day, my father used to buy new clothes for all of us. We used to go to the temple wearing the new clothes. We walked to school but we had no footwear; come rain or shine, we walked barefoot. I remember getting my first pair of slippers after my marriage at the age of 18. I finished SSLC and within a year my marriage was fixed. I think I wanted to continue my studies. But the college was a little far from home and my father did not have the courage to send girls walking to school. On the way to school I remember chewing roasted tamarind seeds. In those days there was nothing like chewing gum. We roasted tamarind seeds, peeled off the outer skin and popped them into our mouths. They lasted all the way to school. School was from morning to evening and we came home for lunch.

One of my favourite memories about school was reading story books in class. I used to borrow books from my friends. If I was forced to return the book in a hurry, I would read them whenever I had a chance. From early childhood I loved reading books. My father used to get books for me. I remember the first books he got for me contained stories from different countries of the world. There was no electricity and I would even read under the light of the full moon. Thinking back now, I feel that I must have read with great difficulty. We used to have an oil lamp which consisted of a little glass bowl containing oil. Immersed in the oil was a wick. There was glass covering to protect the flame from the draft. I loved to read late into the night by the light of this lamp. When I heard my father approaching, his footwear making a crunching sound, I would put out the flame in a hurry and act as if I was asleep. My love for books continues to this day.

I remember a bangle seller (balegaara) coming home. He used to walk from place to place selling his ware to the womenfolk. He used to come to our village twice a year. I think we used to pester my mother and she would give some money to buy bangles. I remember playing hopscotch at home. We called it jubili aata. It was fun. I am told children still play this game.

One fond memory is of going to the circus in Mangalore. On that occasion father hired a taxi and took us all to Mangalore to see Kamala Three Ring circus.
(A brief history of the Indian circus – IN SCHOOL – The Hindu
http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-school/a-brief…circus/article4327096.ece
Jan 21, 2013 – Kamala Three Ring Circus needs a special mention here as what started humble went on to become a giant American-style six-pole three-ring …)

I think we also went to see a play the same day, but I don’t remember the name of that play. We then went to the Railway station. There was a train parked there. The gate was shut and we could not look at it from near. So we just had a peep. I remember my father saying that that was the railway station and that the long vehicle was a train.                Who knew then that I would get to travel on trains, within and outside our country with my husband for over fifty years! He worked with the Indian Railways. He joined the Service in 1958 and retired in 1987 as Controller of Stores.

Shaale – school
Bolvar- name of a place in Puttur
Shabari – An elderly woman who waited for Lord Rama

This is a beautiful song about a bangle seller sung by C Ashwath
https://www2.bing.com/videos/search?q=balegara+chennaiah+sung+by+c+ashwath&qpvt=balegara+chennaiah+sung+by+c+ashwath&view=detail&mid=9DD16A28B3715DA8DD079DD16A28B3715DA8DD07&FORM=VRDGAR

hopscotchsaris

( This photo is from the internet)

wedding

( My parents on their wedding day on May 1st, 1959)

Categories
Life Song of the Road

Tale of a copper vessel and summer vacations (Slice of life)

slice-of-life_individual

As I said earlier my Bobbe ajji was a very resourceful lady. If you remember, I had thought that Bobbe ajji lived away from us when we lived in the kottage room. Now I recall what my mother told about her. It seemed that she had always been living with us. Before coming to Harady, appa, amma, Bobbe ajji and I lived in a small house in a place called Dayyaramule near Adyanadka.

My father was a teacher at that time in a nearby school. We had cows in our home, and Bobbe ajji would sell milk to a hotel in Adyanadka. The owner made it a habit of never paying her on time. So, one day ajji marched to the hotel and brought back an attinalage (idli making vessel) from there. She said she would return it when the owner paid the money. Obviously he did not do so, because I used the vessel for many years. Now my daughter has it. Just imagine, this incident took place before 1944. The owner of the hotel must have been using it for some time at least.

In 1944 we came to Harady in Puttur, and in 1947 we shifted to our own house. Bobbe ajji loved going to Mahalingeshwara temple especially in April when Puttur jaatre was held. This festival was and is very popular. In 1949, during the time of the jaatre, one night, she was returning home from the temple. There were no street lights and she fell into ditch. I don’t know how she came home, but after that she did not rise from her bed. She passed away after a few months.

My maternal grandparents’ house, Panjigudde, was a few miles away from our home. My ajja had passed away when my ajji was in her early twenties. She had two children, my mother and her elder brother. My grandmother’s brothers looked after the family. My ajji, maternal uncle, Ishwara Bhat, and his family lived in Panjigudde. My uncle had a handloom and used to make saris and bedsheets too. In those days people did not have enough money to buy many clothes. The saris which he wove were durable. So,they were in great demand.

During summer vacations my sister Jaya and I used to walk to our grandmother’s place. On our way we used to eat wild berries like kuntala hannu, kepala hannu. We loved walking. It was great fun and never felt tired. During those hot months there was very little water in the well there. We used to go to a nearby stream and a pool to wash our clothes and vessels. I remember there was another pool from which water was used for bathing. The well water was used for drinking and cooking alone. My grandmother had very poor eyesight, and we used to accompany her to two of her friends’ houses. The three ladies enjoyed talking to each other. I also remember that some ladies would come to see ajji and tell her about their troubles. She would to talk to them kindly. We were too young to understand what was being discussed. I think sometimes I used to stay there alone too, because I remember my uncle bringing me back home on his bicycle. My ajji was bedridden for a while before passing away sometime in the 1970s. Now it has been a long time since I have gone to Panjigudde.

I also remember going to two of my father cousins’ houses during summer vacations. Both were older than my father. We first went to Mudambail. Mudambail atte’s children were also there. I remember having great fun playing hide and seek and other games. I remember particularly that a cousin brother played often with us. The aunts scolded us for playing with boys. Early every morning we used to go to the garden to pick wild mangoes. From Mudambail we went to Marikini atte’s house. My father’s younger sister lived in Adyanadka. We would visit her before returning our home at the end of the vacation.

To be continued

Kottage – a room or some rooms adjacent to the main house
Harady – a place in the town, Puttur ( in those days it was a small village)
Appa- father, Amma- mother, Ajji – grandmother
Dayyaramule, Adyanadka, Mudambail – names of villages
Mahalingeshwara – Lord Shiva
Jaatre – Temple festival or a fair
Kuntala and Kepala- names of wild berries, Hannu- fruit

IMG_20170704_191003

Tale of a copper vessel and summer vacations (Slice of life)

Categories
Life Song of the Road

Long ago Days :)

Memories of childhood written by my mother, Shantha Bhat, in Kannada. My son,Aravinda and I translated it.

My earliest memories are of our one-room house in Harady. I must have been around five years old in 1946. The room was part of the ‘kottage’ of the main house. My parents, I and my sister Jaya lived there. My mother’s maternal uncles and their families lived there. We used to call them ‘doddamava’, ‘doddatte’, ‘puttu mava’ and ‘puttatte’. Doddatte’s mother also lived there. She was a widow and used to wear white saris. We called her ‘Bili ajji’. My grandmother was ‘kempu ajji’ because she wore a red sari as a mark of her widowhood. I don’t remember where she lived when we were in the small house. Later on she came to live with us. In another part of the kottage my mother’s grandfather lived with his mistress. I remember watching with my sister Jaya, with fascination, as he used leeches to purify his blood. One day I fell and hurt myself. Back then we did not use ‘English medicine’. My puttatte applied sugar powder on the wound. It healed but left a mark on my left temple.

In 1947, my father purchased a plot of land with a thatched house just above the kottage. My mother was pregnant with my brother Gopala. He was born in that house. Everyone was so excited that a son was born into the family.

Kempajji, whose real name was Mukambike, came to live with us there. She was my grandfather’s first wife. Even after a few years they did not have children so she got her niece married to her husband. The irony is after her husband’s second marriage she herself became pregnant. A daughter was born to them. I don’t remember my ajji. Unfortunately I do not remember her name. She died young leaving behind her two small children, my father and my aunt. They were brought up by Bobbe ajji. My father used to call her Doddabbe. (Abbe means mother) We children called her Bobbe ajji.

She was a very enterprising lady. In the months of March and April she would go to the homes of relatives, stay there through the summer and help them prepare Jackfruit happala. As a token of appreciation they would give her some of the happala to take back home. She was a medicine woman, which means she knew many country remedies for various illnesses. Her medicines died with her. There is a custom among us which is called ‘dhrishti tegeyuvudu’ which is a ritual to ward off ill effects that were thought to influence children. A piece of iron was heated in the fire. This red hot iron was dipped in water kept in bowl on the threshold (hosthilu). This bowl was moved thrice around the child’s head. Then the water was thrown away. I remember Bobbe ajji doing this for my brother Gopala.

One more lovely incident I remember is trying to hit her with a wooden stick when she had been away for a long time leaving me behind. I loved her very much and wanted to be with her always.
She was an expert in a board game called daabelu played with cowrie shells (kavade). She would go to the uncles’ house to play this game with three other people. One half of a coconut shell was polished to smoothness and placed upside down on the floor. The floor was divided into four houses with chalk. Each player would shake the six shells in their hands and drop them on the curved surface of the coconut shell. If the cowries fell the right way up, the player would win a certain number of points; if they fell the other way the number of points would be different. They would play this game after nightfall in the light of the oil lamp. I remember that they would be immersed in the game for hours together.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashta_Chamma_(board_game))
Board game photo from the internet.

Harady- name of a place in a small town in South India

Kottage- a small room or rooms adjacent to the main house
Doddamava – Elder uncle, Puttu mava- younger uncle, dodda atte -elder aunt, puttatte- younger aunt
Ajji – grandmother, Bili – white , Kempu- red
Happala- crispy fried preparations.
To be continued…

kavade

Mareel (7)

 

Categories
Life reflections

Mirror mirror…

Mirror mirror…

I am reading this very interesting book by Jorge Luis Borges called ‘On Writing’. It is a collection of his essays. I loved these lines from the essay, ‘Ultra Manifesto’, “Two aesthetics exist: the passive aesthetic of mirrors and the active aesthetic of prisms. Guided by the former, art turns into a copy of the environment’s objectivity or the individual’s psychic history. Guided by the latter, art is redeemed, makes the world into its instrument, and forges- beyond spatial and temporal prisons- a personal vision.”

I do not know why but these lines took me back to childhood when fairy tales took us to a different world, a world of imagination where anything and everything was possible. I remembered ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. Fortunately in those days we just accepted a story and all that happened in it. We never analyzed. Now, reading those lines by Borges, I thought the wicked witch desperately wanted to be the most beautiful woman. The mirror passively reflected her desire, her obsessive desire. We always see in the mirror what we want to see. The advertisements of all those ‘Fair and Lovely’ creams come to mind. In our country a lot of importance and appreciation is given to those who are fair. It is unfortunate. The manufacturers of these creams take advantage of people who are not happy with what they see in the mirror.

Going back to the wicked witch, the moment she saw Snow White, she realized that there was someone more beautiful than her. The mirror reflected her thoughts. Once again I am thankful we accepted stories just as they were and enjoyed ourselves.:)) Too much analysis spoils everything.

Unlike mirrors, prisms are so alive, the light that passes through them seems to have a life of its own. In a way the prisms do not show what we want to see, we have to accept what they want to show us. Thinking about mirrors and prisms and glasses my thoughts went to my laptop and Skype. We talk to our daughter and grandson and we can see each other. My father-in-law was filled with wonder to see his great grandson in his room through the screen on the laptop. When we first started to Skype, our grandson used to say he would walk through the screen and come to our side. At that stage of life we believe in everything. There is no limit to our imagination. In those days prisms had their own fascination but even the mirror had a life of its own. My younger brother, till the age of four or five used to act out many parts in front of the mirror. :)) I have seen our grandson stand before the mirror and remain in his world of imagination.
We move on and our way of looking at life changes as life changes.

‘Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.’ ~John Betjeman, Summoned by Bells

DSC07919

Categories
Life reflections

Little Things

Our son, daughter and grandson have come for a visit, my parents are here too and we are living our childhood once more. Life has become so much busier in such a nice way. We are back in our childhood and all those little things which so delight our grandson bring delight to us too. We are seeing life through his eyes. The look of excited anticipation and the happiness on his face as can do what he wants to do bring a smile. Children look at things so differently. He was making something with his Lego set and he told us it was an aeroplane, in his own words and actions. To our adult eye it did not look like one but our imagination is so very different. Their imagination knows no limits.

These small things are so full of life and many a time as we grow older we take them for granted. They are there, somewhere in the background. We do not even remember them, and even if lose them, we do not really know that we have lost something precious.

As I was watching our grandson, I remembered my two young friends. They are an important part of my life. Every afternoon at 3.30, they used to go to the gym. Every day they go at the same time. But every time they are so excited, they start counting the minutes and keep looking at the clock as the minute hand moves forward. People do not think of them as normal in the accepted sense. But, sometimes as I watch them, I feel we let everyday things become a monotonous routine. They are something which we have to do and not something we want to do.

Why and when does this happen?

As I write this I remember these lines. I do not remember who wrote them.

‘ One seed can start a garden,

One drop can start a sea,

One doubt can start a hating,

One dream can set us free.’

WP_20150518_18_01_40_Pro

(The photo is of my parents with their great grandson)

Categories
Life

Back to Childhood:))

The first two weeks of this month just flew by but every minute of those days went by in slow motion. Our grandson had come and all of us were together again. My parents too had come. We had been to see his other great grandfather. Our whole world revolved around him. Everything he did was a joy and we loved all those moments.

He took us all back to childhood, we experienced all those little things through him. Growing up and out of childhood we take so many of those simple joys for granted, in fact we do not even notice them. The sun rays were streaming through the window and he was fascinated and was trying to catch those otherwise invisible particles.

One day a butterfly lost its way and came into the verandah and was flying around trying to find its way out. He watched it and was even a little scared when it came too close. Once he went after a little spider, this took me back to those days when my cousin’s son used to crawl after ants.

It was nice to his grandparents enjoying all his little antics like pulling my father’s glasses, playing peek a boo and listening to my mother telling him a story. He would not have understood the story but her voice fascinated him and he listened with fascination and concentration. My father-in-law loved to swing him up and down, both loved the experience.

Bindis fascinate him, the moment he sees us with the bindi, he has to remove it and stick it on to others. We had been to the beach, at first the waves scared him but later he enjoyed playing in the water and danced back and forth with the waves. We enjoyed watching him.

Every little thing is full of wonder. Watching and learning and getting whatever he wanted, we were all at his service. Childhood is a wonderful time for most children and watching him, I think of all those children who have no childhood as such. Why does that happen? There are answers and they leave a sick feeling in the heart and the mind. It seems as if there are no solutions. So people say, ‘that is their destiny’. But that does not satisfy the questions that keep coming to mind and there is this feeling of being so helpless.

Back to childhood