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#SoCS Sept. 19/2020

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “-tion.” Find a word that ends with “tion.” Bonus points if you start your post with it. Have fun!

Vacations are such important parts of life. They bring the much needed change in the daily routine of our lives. We are lucky if we are able to go on a vacation at least once a year. So many cannot. Life is survival from one day to the next. And there are others who do not feel the need for a change. Any change in their routine upsets them.

We went to Amritsar and Dharamsala this January. We had a wonderful time and those days seem like days in another life! Not even in our wildest imagination did we imagine that a virus would bring human beings to their knees. Our contribution to this state of affairs is immense. And unfortunately, we are not learning. I was thinking I would not write about the virus, but invariably it comes back to mind, as it comes into all conversations.

Coming back to vacations, my thoughts go to childhood. My father was working in the Indian Railways and we lived in North India. We had holidays in May and June and those two months were spent in our maternal grandparents’ home in a small town in Karnataka. My father got family passes and this made it possible for us to travel the long distance from Delhi to Mangalore every year. Our grandparents’ home was about sixty kms from the railway station in Mangalore. I remember counting the milestones from Mangalore as we reached closer and closer to our destination. We were so excited. Those two months were months of complete freedom from school. We lived in a different world with uncles, aunts and cousins. We visited many of our relatives and each day was different. So many relationships were forged in those days. Many links are strong as ever and some have broken. Life is like that.

Later on, I would wonder how my grandmother managed the cooking with so many people in the house. Maybe everyone helped. In those days we never thought about it. I remember the big vessel with ‘bellada neeru’, bella is jaggery and neeru is water. Water was boiled with jaggery and a little milk was added. We drank it when we felt thirsty, which was quite often 😊. We savoured each day and felt sad when it was time for us to leave. Three days in the train and back to school. And one more year before we could return. Those were the days of letter writing. Telephones were rarely used because trunk-calls were expensive and each minute counted. And I think people were apprehensive if somebody called and thought only some bad news would make anyone take such a decision. Life was different those days.

And life is definitely different these days !!  Who would ever have imagined the situation we are now in?

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#SoCS Sept. 12/2020

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “collar.” Use it as a verb, a noun, or metaphorically. Bonus points for using it in all three ways! Enjoy!

Today’s prompt reminded me of all the shirts and frocks I had stitched for my children. Collars for shirts and kurtas, peter pan collars, sailor collars and so many more types for frocks.  Stitching always interested me. I went to college in Bombay and I was staying with my father’s elder sister. I told her I would like to join a class. A lady in the next building took classes in her home. I remember going there, I think once a week. Those classes were fun.

I stitched shirts for my son. And when my daughter was born, stitching became more fun. Frocks are so much more exciting then shirts 😊. The different types of collars and sleeves and patterns made the whole process so satisfying. I remember loving the design of a frock worn by a dancer in an old Hindi movie. I stitched a frock according to that design but that frock did not have a collar. Those were the days before the mobile phones and digital cameras. I do not have the photos of all the frocks that I stitched.  Now I stitch only for myself, though last year I stitched dresses for my grandchildren. But they were simple shirts and frocks. When I am stitching, I am in a different world. It is difficult to collar me at that time 😊.

I was thinking how to use the word metaphorically, it has been a long time since I have used metaphors and many a time we use them without really thinking about them. I am listening to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens on Audibles. It is a dramatized version. Ebenezer Scrooge with the Christmas spirit is looking at the scene in the house of Bob Cratchit. Bob is his clerk and Ebenezer has underpaid and overworked him. In fact, he has placed a collar on Bob and Bob has no choice, he has to live with it. He is poor and has a large family. In spite of this Bob and his family raised a toast to Ebenezer on Christmas eve. I have yet to listen to rest of the story. I have read it long back but it is a nice experience to listen to stories. I enjoy Stream of consciousness because it shows me how my thoughts move from one topic to another😊. In fact, it is difficult to collar thoughts, the mind has its own rules.

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#SoCS Sept. 5/2020

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “sharp.” Use it in any or all of its definitions. Have fun!

A few mornings ago, while eating dosa and chutney powder I must have bitten a dal and I heard a sound in my mouth which told me that I must have broken my tooth. I had. It was quite irritating and I decided that I had to go to my dentist. I went to the hospital on Friday morning, I had not been there for months. So many formalities now where once we had just walked in. My temperature was taken, I had to sanitize my hands. My name, phone number and other details were taken. There were not many people around. My husband studied in this college and worked here till he retired in 2017. I told him it felt very strange to see so few patients, students and staff. The place has always been bustling with activity. The broken piece was removed, it did not hurt but I will have to have a root canal treatment but my doctor said if I did not have any problem, I could wait for some time. But after the broken piece was removed the tooth has a sharp edge and my tongue seems to find its way to that place 😊. My doctor said she would soften the edge. I have to go to the hospital again.

While waiting for the x-ray, a sister came to talk to me, I have known her for a long time. As we were talking, I noticed that her right hand looked all twisted. I asked her what happened. About two years ago, she and many others of her community were going on a pilgrimage to Tirupati.

Tirupati – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirupati
On the way their bus hit another bus, she was thrown off her seat and her hand was caught between sharp pieces of glass. She lost three fingers. After many operations and physio therapy she is able to do most of her work.

I remember mother telling me that my father did not want to go to Tirupati because some of his friends had met with accidents on the way to that pilgrimage centre. I too had never been there. I have always liked to go to small temples where the atmosphere is quiet and peaceful. Of course I didn’t tell this to the sister 😊.

We talked for some more time. We both agreed that we cannot tell what will happen in the next minute in our lives. We think we are in control but life keeps surprising us. It was time for me to go and as it happens these days we talked about coronavirus and how the world has changed! The virus is ruling our lives.

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SoCS Aug. 29/2020

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “more than a hundred.” Write your post inspired by something you have more than a hundred of in your home right now. Enjoy!

More than hundred’ years is a long time and pictures of trees, houses, books, people and so much more comes to mind. I am now listening to the novels written by Mark Twain and they were written more than hundred years ago and adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn still make us smile.

Hundred years is a long time and I think of what my grandfather had written about his wedding in 1916. He has written about how, he his parents and other relatives travelled in bullock carts to the bride’s home about seventy miles. They travelled only by night and it took them four days to reach their destination. I can picture the bullock carts moving on, with lanterns to show the way. It seems a fascinating journey. So much has changed in hundred years and so much is still the same.

In those days there were more trees than there are now. Many of them more than hundred years old. Unfortunately, we do not think twice before cutting them down in the name of development. And when I think about old trees being cut down, I remember two old and beautiful trees in the yard of a temple in a small place called Kanthavara. These trees are hundreds of years old, their trunks are very wide and their branches reach out to the sky. The temple priest had told us that flowers are in bloom throughout the year. I am so glad that the trees are in the temple yard, they will never be cut down.

Old houses bring to mind the beautiful house where my father’s maternal uncle had lived. His family still lives there. My father loved his uncle and always went there to meet him. This house is more than hundred years old, we had been there last June for a few days. During childhood we always went there for a few days during summer vacations. We came to our maternal grandparents’ home for summer vacations and we used to visit many of our relatives. And one of the highlights of those days was our stay in this beautiful old house. My father’s cousin is of my age and we used to have a great time together. Some memories are so precious.

I would like to end by mentioning an old lady who is more than hundred years. I have not seen her for some time but from the moment I met her I felt she was a kindred spirit. And the words ‘kindred spirit’ takes me immediately to Anne of the Green Gables written by L M Montgomery, more than hundred years ago. Anne was always happy to meet kindred spirits. And I too like it 😊.

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
― 
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Magnolia champaca – Wikipedia

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

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#SoCS Aug. 22/2020

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “brush.” Use it as a noun, a verb, or an idiom. Have fun!

I am listening to The Complete Novels of Mark Twain in Audibles. I had read his books long back and enjoyed them. Listening to them is a wonderful experience. The word brush brought to mind the scene from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The scene where he has to white wash the wall is very popular. His aunt tells him that he has to paint a wall as a punishment. Tom sits with his brush and paint thinking of ways to not paint. It was fun to read how he made many boys take the brush and paint the wall. They gave him their treasures in exchange for being allowed to paint. The wall got three coatings by the end of the day 😊. I wonder if Mark Twain thought that scene would still bring a smile after more than 150 years.

Our daughter has always loved to paint. And she has passed on her love to her son. The other day he showed us the bottle he was painting using acrylic paints. She sent a photo of him holding a brush and looking at the bottle and of course, we as grandparents thought it just too wonderful for words😊.

As I was writing that, my thoughts went to our brush with law in Sofia, Bulgaria. We were there in 2012. We had gone to see the beautiful Boyona church. We bought tickets for the tram to return to our hotel, at the other end of the city. We did not know that we had to punch the tickets in a punching machine kept to one side. An inspector climbed in, checking the tickets of all the passengers. She was very angry with us and thought we were cheating. We later learnt people buy these tickets in bulk and punch them as and when the commute. We kept saying in sign language that we had bought the tickets at the station but did not know that we had to punch them. The tall man sitting behind us started supporting us , another lady joined him. But the inspector was adamant that we should pay the fine. We were ready to do that. Then that man asked the lady to punch two tickets, he took our unpunched ones and gave it to her. He gave the punched tickets to the inspector. She said something, I do not know what, it was in their own language, and left us to ourselves. The man got down before we could thank him. But we were able to thank the lady.  Those people will always be a part of our lives. We thanked God that the inspector came when she did because if she had come towards the end of our journey we would have to pay a fine. For the rest of our stay we diligently punched the ticket when we went in a tram 😊. Sofia is a beautiful place.

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

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#SoCS Aug. 15/2020

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “pro/con.” Talk about the pros and cons of anything. Enjoy!

I believe we think about the pros and cons of something or the other at different stages of our lives. Making decisions depends on many issues, we think about the advantages and disadvantages of taking a step before taking a decision. Of course at that moment we do what we think is right and it is only later that we come to know whether we have taken the right decision.

Talking about decisions my thoughts go back to 1979. My father worked in the Indian Railways. In that year about five hundred employees under many officers were sent on deputation to Nigeria. My father was the Controller of Stores.  I remember my parents discussing the pro and cons of going to Nigeria. The money would be welcome. But at that time my doddappa and doddamma were in Liberia and my parents were thinking about my grandfather. How could both sons be far away from him? Then my grandfather went to stay with his daughter. My parents were in Nigeria from 1979 to 1982. In one way it was a good decision because they were able to purchase two acres of land and a house in the town where my maternal grandparents lived. My parents lived there for more than thirty years after my father retired.

But my grandfather passed away in 1980 in his cousin’s house. He was 87 ,mentally and physically active till the end. Both his sons were far away from him. That is life.

I spent my summer vacations in Nigeria. The campus was good. One summer, my parents, my younger brother and myself went round many countries in Europe. As my father was in the Indian Railways, we went by train to all those countries. I loved Rome. I had been dreaming of going to Rome after seeing Roman Holiday. I remember throwing a coin over my shoulder into Trevi fountain. I had read that I would return to Rome if I did that.

And, coincidence or not, I did return to Rome in 1988, with my husband 😊 and loved seeing all those places again, specially the fountain. But that time I did not throw any coins into the fountain. It was not because I weighed the pros and cons of that action, I just did not.

As a last thought, I think pro et contra sounds better than pros and cons 😊.

Trevi Fountain | fountain, Rome, Italy | Britannica https://www.britannica.com/topic/Trevi-Fountain

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#SoCS Aug. 8/2020

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “spot.” Write whatever image the word “spot” invokes. Have fun!

The first thought that came to mind when I read this prompt were all those ‘spot the differences’ we used to enjoy in comic books long back. It has been ages since I have read any. Childhood was filled with Phantom and Mandrake comics, Archies, all those superhero and heroine ones and of course Asterix and Tintin, Amar Chitra Katha  and Tinkle. In those days, most comic books had something extra like ‘spot the differences’ and some interesting information.

We used to go to my father’s elder brother’s home in Bombay for short vacations. The summer vacations were reserved for our visit to my maternal grandparents’ home in a small town in Karnataka. My cousins in Bombay had a huge collection of comics. I don’t know how many times I must have read each one of them and I don’t think I ever got bored of them. My doddappa’s house was on a hill and there were three or four houses in that building. There were lawns all around. It was doddappa’s s official quarters and was a beautiful place . We spent wonderful moments there. I still remember each and every room in that house. Quite some time ago, I learnt the building was razed to the ground. I don’t know what is there on that spot. The building is gone but those memories will always be with me.

And memories reminds me of an incident that happened in this building which my Amma and Doddamma loved to recollect. It happened in 1962 and I was in the crawling stage and busy exploring the new world. At that time my father had to be in the hospital for a long time due to some problem with his spine. So my mother with my brother and myself stayed with my doddappa and doddamma till my father recovered. We were with them for a year. One morning my grandfather came to my amma and doddamma asking the whereabouts of the baby. They searched the house but I was not found. Then, to their horror they saw the front door ajar. They were in a tight spot !! Doddamma rushed down the stairs, heart in her mouth, fearing that I must have tumbled down the stairs. My mother rushed up and she found me crawling up the stairs with great concentration. With a sigh of relief she carried me back home. Actually, both ladies never told me what my grandfather told them after I was found safe and sound 😊.  

(Doddappa and Doddamma- my father’s elder brother and sister-in-law)

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#SoCS Aug. 1/2020

 Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “more.” Start your post with the word “more.” Enjoy!

More than anything else I think people all over the world would want coronavirus to just vanish from the face of the earth😊. It would have happened in a movie or in a novel but it does not happen that way in real life. But even as I write this, I think truth is always stranger than fiction. I have read to this effect in so many books. And it is true. So many strange and terrible things happen in the lives of people that if we happen to read about it, we feel it cannot be true and it is all the imagination of the writer.

I am listening to The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain in Audibles. I was listening to the life of Tom who is the pauper and ‘more’ reminded me of Oliver Twist asking for more. Some scenes and some lines become so popular and remain in the minds of readers for a long, long time.

Books have always been a part of my life. In my younger days, I just could not stop reading a book once I had started it. Many a time I used to keep reading late into night. My grandfather used to stay with us for some months in a year. I remember one night, I was reading a very absorbing book, I kept telling myself, “one more page and I will stop”. That one more page became many, many more pages 😊. Then, suddenly I looked up to see my grandfather standing by the door and asking me if I did not want to go to school the next day. He listened to the 9 o’clock news and retired for the day. He had already had one stretch of sleep. I quickly closed my book and rushed to bed. But these days I read a book more slowly and it has been a long, long time since I have read late into night.

It was my grandfather who developed this  love for stories and for reading. I can still see him sitting in a cane chair with a book in his hand. We would be sitting near him, listening to him reading aloud to us from our Epics and many other stories. I specially remember the stories of Lord Krishna. Some people and some memories are always a part of our lives.

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#SoCS July 25/2020

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “check/cheque/Czech.” Use one, use ’em all, use ’em any way you’d like. Have fun!

The word cheque brought to mind an incident which happened long back. My mother told me about it. In those days the finances of the family were usually looked after by the men. My father worked in the Indian railways and the salary was not very high and my mother used to say by the end of the month there was hardly any money in hand. She kept some rupees hidden away to be used in the last week of the month. We never knew shortage in any way and our needs too were not much. We lived in the campus and life was all about going to school, coming back, finishing homework and going out to play 😊.

In the seventies television first appeared on the scene. Two or three families had them and they were very kind enough to allow children and adults to gather in their houses on Sunday evenings to watch the movie on Door Darshan, the only TV channel then. We used to check the movie to be shown on Sunday evening, in the newspaper and if it was something that we wanted to see, we would go to their house. It was fun.

To come back to my mother, she told me she had never been to a bank in those days. One day my father told her to take a cheque, go to the bank and cash it. She was so scared that she asked her close friend to come with her. The friend too had never been to the bank. The two ladies went together and very anxiously asked one staff to help them. He was very kind and helped them to encash the cheque. Since then my mother had gone to the bank many times with my father but she was never very comfortable with it.

And I also remember her words when thinking about life. In those days she saved a little money which my father told her to keep aside for herself, it was a very small sum. To buy a sari, she had to save for many months. She would check the amount she had saved once in three months. Once she had the amount she needed, she would go to the shop with her friend to buy the sari. In 1979, a team of about five hundred people from Indian Railways were sent on deputation for three years to Nigeria. My parents had a wonderful time there. After returning from there my mother did not have to save money for months to buy a sari. She could buy one any time she wanted to. But she always said the joy that one sari gave after saving for months was very special. I think this holds good for most things in life.

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#SoCS July 18/2020

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

The word ‘link’ immediately brings to mind all the links we use when we use the internet. I remember those days when I did not know how to open a link and then those earlier days when the internet was something strange and new. My cousin had internet connection in his house and he had take so many precautions to keep his computer and other accessories safe. And it all seemed such a headache. And now so much has changed. We see people walking about in this world and their heart and mind in another world, the world wide web !!  

The stream of consciousness links our thoughts from one topic to another and back and forth in space and time. The internet and the computer reminds me  of the sixties. We were in Secunderabad in Andhra Pradesh. My father was posted there, he worked in the Indian Railways.  He and some of his colleagues learnt how to work the computer. He enjoyed working with it. One day he took us to see it. The computers were huge, in a large room. There were cards punched with holes in them. It had been fascinating. Who would have thought the computer and the internet would become such an important part of our daily lives! And all those links linking us to so many areas of information. I remember my father telling that it was important for people to learn using the computer or they would become computer illiterates in a world where the computer would become a major influence in our lives.

From that my thoughts go to science fiction stories. I remember reading stories about computers and machines ruling the world. In those days it seemed just a story but now we are moving towards that world, what with artificial intelligence and computers becoming more and more intelligent  and people thinking that we were on the way towards development !! And the height of irony is that this development has been given a brake by a virus! And I wonder what will happen when the brake is released?