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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Memory. Memories.

28th January 2013


Yeah memory. as against memories. "Yaaddash" as against "Yaadein".

Some people have a photographic memory . Their visual recall is good. For some, it is the heightened sense of smell. Fragrance or otherwise.

For me it is the smell,... Olfactory.. it  stirs memories. and I recall incidents clearly.

From Jan '89 to April '92, when I used to walk to Malad station on the way to work, at around 7.30 am, I had to pass by a small settlement. No not around huts, but a small settlement of people of modest means. They would heat their bath water on a small pile of wood outside their house. The fragrance of that burning wood at that early hour, the small wisps of smoke rising and creating a very very fine smoke screen and the odd sunbeam - not very sharp, trying to thrust themselves from between the branches of the jamun tree... would take me back in time to my father's native home in Udupi. It would remind me of my grandmother. It would take me to the times when as a kid , I  would wake up in that old house, and walk to the kitchen which would be smoky from the chulha. Lightly smoky as it would have been lit hours ago, in the wee hours. The kitchen woud be lit by the sun which came in through some glass panes left uncovered by the mangalore tiles. the light would come in through the windows , from in between the vertical wooden rods . I would love to sit under that sunbeam. The floating dust particles would attract . As an adult today, in a 'dramatic ' language i would say the kitchen looked like focus lights had been fixed on the the roof and I would like to be in the limelight.

The fragrance of that burning wood in M alad would take me to my vacations back in Udupi, remind me of my grandmom and the breakfast of ragi vermicelli. Pink vermicelli garnished with coconut, cooked in coconut oil. a couple of pieces of fresh jackfruit from the tree in the 'aangan' and a big glass of coffee sweetened with jaggery.

The memory then takes me to the bath in that old house in Udupi. WWe used to have two huge copper urns, one filled with cold water, the other with hot water from the big crackling fire under it. Before we could enter the bathroom we had to pass by the cowshed, with a couple of cows tied in there.  
Ganga .. Lakshmi.. Ganga.S he was tied closest to the bathroom door and was quite the grumpy one and with her sharp pointed horns she intimidated. I can clearly see my widowed aunt milking the cows while the 'khandaan ka billa' Dammu, the white tom cat, would beg for a serving with his whining mewing. Once in a while he would be served a hard kick and he would literally fly to another corner with a screeching meaaaaaaaaaaawwwwww!!.

Another smoky; memory is of the cousin who would come to check the fire in the bathroom and chuck a few raw cashew nuts in the fire. We would have plucked some cashew fruits, the evening before, gorged on slices spiked with salt and pepper and she would store the raw nuts to roast  the next morning. We would hover around the bathroom, waiting to see and hear the 'popping' sounds as the cashews roasted. In a few minutes she would pull them out with a twig and we would gather around her to count and check whether she had got them all outS. he would put them in the pallu of her half sari, rub them , shell them and give them to us. the warm cashew nuts.

Why this post today?? heehee... no , I am not in malad, nor did I light a fire in my kitchen - the woody kind. It just happened that I rose early this morning and had an early morning cup of chaai, "woh bhi amma ke haath ki"  .    "the chaai ki mehek" took me back 20 yrs.... to Malad once again. To the time between March 1st and April 10 1992.

Dad would leave for work at 6.45 am. After that it was 'mera raaj' .   The music system which was playing Pandit Bhimsen, would now belt out  the "angrejji gaana."

There was this favourite cassette borrowed frm the fiance Ahem !

20 mins of side A, while I got ready to leave for office . After that Side B and my breakfast - chai and chappati with kissan mix fruit jam  .The 3rd song always coincided with the first sip of chaai.

And today as I  sipped the same fragrant chaai, at around the same time I was back in Malad, changing the cassette and in my mind listening to this one - the 3rd song, Side B 

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