A brief Southern sojourn(1)

shore templeA family wedding took me to Chennai in late December – and I stayed on for a few extra days to relax by the sea – first at the Radisson resort in Mammalapuram and then at Puducherry. Both destinations were busy with the holiday tourist crowd –

The Radisson is an upmarket resort which has been around for some years. It is comfortable with very average food options – but for water lovers like me, the 2 great swimming pools make up for all the other deficiencies. The 2 mornings we were there, I had very different experiences on #mymorningwalk. The first morning, I stepped on to the beach, hoping to walk southwards, to the shore temple which I could see in the distance. However, in the many years since my last visit, this approach is no longer possible as the temple complex has been barricaded from the beach side. So I turned around and walked north for a few kilometers. The weather was great and the sun was just coming up and although the beach was narrow at high tide, it was a lovely walk. Except for the landward sights – the whole distance I walked was a continuous series of resorts – of variable shades of elegance/or the lack of it. Many had constructions jutting onto the beach, including the State Government one – what of the ‘500 meter law’ (a 1991 law by which building in the 500 m from high tide line is prohibited) I wondered! The total lack of greenery was not all man made – the cyclone had ravaged this coast just a month previously.


The next morning, I walked out of the front gate of the resort and into the town of Mammalapuram – with the intention of visiting the shore temple. After enjoying a fresh cup of filter coffee, I walked past the bustling tourists jostling for their street side breakfast, to reach the gates of the shore temple.


The ticket office was open and here I was in for a surprise! The notice above the booking window said, Rs 30/ for Indians and Rs 500/ for foreigners.  Me in my tack suit and T, requesting for a Rs 30/ ticket in Tamil, was requested to produce ID proof of my Indianness!  I am sure the same was not demanded of the many in their sarees and veshtis – and no amount of arguing in the local tongue, would convince the very diligent booking clerk. He pointed out the large notice board which said somewhere said that an ID was required. So I had to be content with the distant view of the shore temple and closer view of the many fine pieces of stone carving, which are on display in the many shops along the main street.

And then we moved on to Puducherry for the rest of the sojourn!


Of hoarding and memories -#mothersanddaughters

Amma’s not being here is a state, that is ongoing, but has not been accepted as ‘permanent’ in my mind. But, the slow clearing of her belongings, few as they are, are bringing back memories of times past. This morning I opened up a set of old boxes that had been tucked away at the back of her cupboard.

This was one of them after I had cleaned it up – I did not capture it in its original state!

My mother was a hoarder, and nothing, nothing in which she saw potential re-use, and many that had no reasonable hope of re-use were put away. This was a trait revealed to me, only after my father passed away and she started living alone in Chennai. On those short visits during the vacations, one of my regular chores was to clean the book shelves, as my father’s large collection had been moved en block from Bangalore to Chennai, and I was their designated keeper. But, pulling out a drawer here, or opening a cupboard there  to look for something, would reveal hoarded utensils, plastic bags, old brochures…… and since I was, I suppose rather disdainful and somewhat mocking of her trait, she would order me to leave her things well alone.

Every flier that came in the morning papers, wasw stored near the telephone, to jot numbers etc. The envelopes of every card she received (this was the 90s!) was kept for re-use, and the aluminium foil of medicines were carefully stored for scrubbing utensils as were the the plastic milk bags, washed and stored for aliquoting stuff for the freezer. She must have had periodic forays into cleaning and clearing, but as she grew older, these probably became fewer and the house started to get cluttered. So in later years, she would ask me to clean out a cupboard or shelf, and I would throw out stuff with her reluctant permission. It was in 2011, when she was in hospital for some time, following a hip fracture, that I really managed to throw out a lot of stuff. And ever after she kept complaining that she could not find things because of my clean up.

Like many of her generation, she knew sewing, and although I don’t remember her making clothes for us as children, she made her own petticoats and blouses for a long time. The manual sewing machine which she must have bought in the 50s was with her to the end and the sewing machine, near a window with good lighting was very much part of her house. Ans so today as I cleared up the boxes, I found this treasure – press buttons, a blade which was probably’s my father’s, a box of pins dating to the 60s, extra buttons from a sweater she must have knitted when??

And  she often asked my brother and sister-in-law to get needles/stitch removers/needle threaders – the quality of European needles were considered to be better and the latter 2 items were not in our markets then. They continued to carry these for her over the years and this is today’s loot – enough needles to keep everyone I know in supply for many years, especially considering how much stitching is done!


I have considered myself to have taken after my father, a non-hoarder. But strangely, as  every item in these boxes brought back memories,  I found I could not throw out anything!  And as I recalled the pruning of my father’s shelves in Bangalore and how I discovered books dating to his college days when I was unpacking his books on reaching Gurgaon, I realise that he was also a hoarder! Memories live on these little things….

Mumbai for 18 hours

A hurried, short notice trip to Mumbai a few days ago,  was just the kind of travel I am not comfortable with. But the request came late, and it was a meeting that I did not want to miss. And so airport – Nariman Point- airport all in 18 hours!! The trip was over the week end and so  I did not have to face the usual South Mumbai traffic chaos. I landed in the early evening, and got to the hotel in 50′. Since the meeting was the next morning, I had an evening to myself. Room service is never very exciting, and when I decided to venture downstairs at 9pm, the in-house restaurants looked deserted and pricey! So, I decided to step out and explore the other options.

I have not strolled along Marine Drive for decades, and in the night time was even further back if ever, and alone was definitely a first! My aim was to stroll a bit, and catch a pav-bhaji/ vada-paav road-side dinner.  The total sense of security when I stepped out onto with the wide, well paved esplanade was amazing. It was bustling with people, singles, same sex and mixed groups of all ages (mostly the young and the elderly, families with kids, kids in prams and the elderly in wheel chairs, in jeans and shorts, sarees and burquas ………it was not noisy, there was no jostling, just quiet enjoyment of a Saturday evening with family and friends. I can only say that ‘I love Mumbai’.

I kept walking, and there were no vendors at all anywhere in sight, on the sea-side of the road or on the other side, not even a strolling ‘chana-jor-garam’ wala or an ice-cream cart. I can only guess that the BMC is fairly effective in implementing some rules. The whole stretch was spotlessly clean, helped I am sure by the lack of food vendors. But it must be more than just that, as I could see people eating stuff that they had probably carried with them.  There were other interesting observations – the famous Victoria carriages had acquired fluorescent lighting, all traffic stopped at red lights – behind the pedestrian crossing, the renovated Saifee Hospital had acquired a most ghastly permanent bedazzlement that diminished the ‘Queens necklace’.

I suddenly realized that it was almost 10pm, I was hungry and I was almost reaching the Gymkhanas stretch, just before the aquarium. So I did an about turn, and since I had not seen any restaurants on this stretch, turned towards VT and found a  place called Salt Water. And as the name suggested, fish was their strong point – so a glass of white wine and grille ‘fish of the day’ was a great ending for the evening.


OoGoOg the Unhalved

Thisnis the strange world imagined by my 12 year old grandson….


OoGoOg looked at his brother. His brother had been ‘halved’ like all of his kind. Halving was supposed to be a sign of becoming a proper member of society. Halving occurred between ages 14 and 20. OoGoOg was 23 years old and still hadn’t halved. Most of his race was born half their parents’ height, became equal of their height by age 5, doubled their parents’ height by age 16 and halved by age 17. The year in the middle caused each new generation to be taller than the earlier

OoGoOg wasn’t lucky to be tall though, being tall was considered bad luck. Even his parents’ said, “shame and bad luck you bring upon us”. Little did they know that if OoGoOg wasn’t noticed, they would all be doomed.
Dr. Hiburgerihatu was sure he hadn’t made a mistake this time so he went to check on test #3. He…

View original post 164 more words