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Thursday, September 12, 2013


The “I am going to Udupi for ganapati” experience begins the moment I board the aircraft. I am settling in, when I hear a snatch of conversation in the mother tongue. And for a moment I am startled. It is not everyday that I hear the language being spoken outside of my home. It takes a couple of seconds to recover and realize that it is that time of the year….folks are going home for the festival . Just as we are. Going home for Chauti.

Native place... the place where one belongs to. My native place was Kuthpady. A village close to a bigger village called Udyavara, and a couple of kms away from the town of Udupi. The place where my father and his siblings were born and brought up

Udupi is where the husband resided. The place we now call our hometown.

As soon as we land in Mangalore and drive towards Udupi, a strange feeling comes over me. The bonding over the mother tongue – in the temples, at the stores…. meeting family, the familiar surroundings, ….the memories of the earlier visits. The feeling that this is mine, that I fit here and nowhere else …the feeling seems to be all encompassing. Overwhelming.

Just 3 hrs ago I was in Mumbai, in a different milieu , a place I called my home, and now when I am here in the hometown , I seem to belong here. It seems just right.

The heart strings are tugged. Where is my home really ! and for a moment the mind goes into a confused state. A vacant state. I would like to tell myself that the home is where the heart is. Or that there are the concepts of janmabhoomi and the karmabhoomi. And that they both could be apart from each other and yet remain an integral part of me. But dil hai ke manta nahin. A sadness reigns.

When I was a newlywed and we used to drive into Udupi …, as soon as we entered the town,,,the husband would lower his side of the window,. All throughout the next 20 minutes it would take to reach our home, he would be calling out to somebody or the other - a “namaskara swaamy”, a hand raised in greeting, … or he would be called out to.. “ehhh vittla.”.. and he would raise his hand – in acknowledgement. a wide grin plastered on his face, for all of those 20 mins.

The next few days would pass off similarly. Each time we stepped out of the house we would bump into a familiar face.

It been nearly 25 years that he has been away from Udupi. And nearly 10 yrs since his parents have passed away.

Each time we enter the town now, we find some of the old landmarks levelled. New ones taking their place. The people seem to have vanished too. Some have moved to other parts of the town, some out of the town and city , state or country and then there are the others who have moved on to another realm .

The journey to our home is usually a silent one now. I see his eyes searching for the familiar face. And I hate myself for having been envious of him then. I thank my stars now that he is a practical kind of a guy and accepts and adapts very well to change. The sentimental fool that I am, I have a lump in my throat.. this time for him.

We do meet some of them over the couple of days that we are there. In the market place, at the shops. .His classmates, his teachers, , an acquantaince, parents of his friends, friends of his parents….. they talk fondly… very fondly.. of the times they shared together. They share anecdotes with me and the kids. It feels good to hear the stories. His stories.

Then there are times when we meet folks who knew my father , my grandparents, my uncles….I usually do not remember them by face, but the names sometime ring a bell. The tell me to convey their regards to my father. They enquire about him, his well being. They recount the times they spent with dad, his brothers.,. They talk very affectionately with me.. just for being my father’s daughter. They bless us - ‘amgelo ashirwaad assa, dev barey koro”. Loosely translated from Konkani, it means – u have our blessings, may the almighty shower you with His grace”

This feeling of belonging… I understand it better now. The bond, the bond of belonging to the same time period, the same place, similar circumstances, It is indeed a warm one.

It is an awesome feeling when people place you, accept you and pull you closer into their space..

This is when it strikes me that these people here know our stories… the husband’s stories, my fathers stories.

And I also understand my confusion. The people who knew my stories… where are they? moving residence has its woes. Uprooting has its woes

Who will fondly tell my children my stories? Will they feel similar pangs ?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The daughter

The daughter.

Let me begin ekdum phillumii style ... i had really longed to have one. i wanted to dress her in pretty pretty dresses... doll her up... i craved for a daughter. i dreamed of her growing up. snuggling up comfortingly to me, no matter how old she grew up to be. I dreamed, of her coming trustingly to me -trusting me to wipe away the wrinkles of worry on her brow. I dreamed, of her coming to me.. sharing her dreams with me... her innermost thoughts, her fears.

i had longed for a daughter. and when she was born, i was ecstatic.

As she was growing up, right from the time she was a toddler , i realised that this child of mine had a mind of her own. and she didnt shy from displaying it at every step.

i had dreamt of her becoming my ally.

She had already drawn the battle lines. And we were on different sides.

she had an opinion of her own - one which was absolutely opposite to mine. from clothes , to shoes, to hair clips, to food, to choices in books..... .there was not one thing we could agree on.

Years of reading Linda Goodman's Sun Signs hadn't really prepared me to come to terms with the fact that a Taurean could be this strong willed.

For the vain Leo, difficult days lay ahead !

The vexed me would rant and rant.. why does this girl have to rebel so much!!

And then one day, the son said..."why can’t she have a different line of thinking,.a different way of doing things. when she doesn’t want to do things your way, she is just wanting to do things differently. why do u presume that your way is the right way? It is alrite to differ."

The husband piped in..".why are u imagining this to be a tussle.... allow her to be her."

I sulked for a while.

Gradually i admitted to myself that I was being the control freak. Taking my 'mommy responsibilities' too seriously. I really needed to loosen up and let my kids thrive. I should truly be glad that they were willing to hold up and stand up to their beliefs

life became a little easy at the K's.

The daughter was a typical Taurean. Very picky. Very self assured. A bit too pig headed I might add.

I had wanted to doll her up?? she refused to get into anything which had sequins or frills or bows. shorts and later capris and jeans were her signature style….. no- nonsense clothes.

If she wore a small dangling ear ring on a traditional outfit bought with much emotional upheavel, she would refuse to wear anything round her neck. .

If she wore a neck ornament, it was ‘ bye- bye’ ear rings.

Bangles??? No way. may be a very very very thin bracelet. then nothing around the neck, definitely

A colouful bindi with a chudidaar? the chudidaar itself was a favour wasn't it???

If the young lady condescendingly agreed to wear a neck piece, it would have to be the junk kind. I had no issues with that. But an owl ?? why couldn’t it be a butterfly?

But of late i am seeing her soften a bit. A bit conscious about her appearance. i see her linger a bit too longer at the mirror. i find her shyly trying out a new hair parting. I am able to relate to this slightly unsure lass. I see a bit of myself in her.

I pretend i am not noticing her at such times and let her enjoy making those tiny discoveries for herself. i want her to be comfortable in her skin. i want her to be different from me... be self assured.


It's teacher's day on the 5th and they are celebrating it tomorrow .. as she is in class X, the students get to play teacher for a day. They have to come dressed in formals. Knowing her dislike for finery, i suggested she wear a Kurti with a pair of jeans.


the brat declared she wanted to wear a sari !!!.

After i recovered frm this, she asked me to pull out a few sarees for her. The rules were spelled out .......... None of the starched cottons. Nothing with any shimmer. Sequins were out… as also the jari.

In an appeasement mode, i suggested we buy her a saree of her choice. No she declared. She would ‘make do’ with something frm my wardrobe.

Finally there was one saree she zeroed in on. A soft flowing fabric - her first criterion. A strip of jari… a wee bit of stone embellishment on one side - the one which fell at the feet.

I whooped in delight.

Then came the issue of the blouse. She had thought of it too. a textured cotton fabric. a small collar.

Since the time she has come home from school today, she has been busy. the tresses have been washed clean of any traces of oil. she has set her mind on carrying a satchel like handbag i own.. “it looks vry school-maarm-ish” , i told her. Dissuade her i couldn't.

The owl has been prepped up for tomorrow. and because i wasn't really imposing and merely suggesting, she has lined up another neckpiece for trial tomorrow. i am only glad she considered another option to the offending owl.

ear rings might or might not be worn.

“a bindi ?? tussi badey mazaakiye ho”, I have been told

Deep down i am excited that brat is blossoming .. very slowly ... into the daughter I had dreamed of.

I hope she will eventually learn to willingly trust me - not just because I am her mother , but just because I am her mother .

And finally i hope i haven't said too much too early..... after all tomorrow is another day.