Sunday, September 20, 2009

And how I smile!! :) :) :) :)

There was a time when 11 a.m would bring with it a sense of anticipation. The sound of the 'plonk' on tin, was very soothing. It was I should know. Those were the days when all that you needed to convey to the person living across miles was 'the snail mail'. The lovely handwritten sheets, the blue 'inland letter', the dull yellow post card. They were all there to witness smiles, tears, screeches as news let itself out or just the shy acknowledgement of sweet whispers of love from a loved one.Oh yes!! those were the days!! *sigh*

There were times when an urgent ( remember urgent meant 'emergency' ) message had to be sent, we had to trudge along ,amidst the pressing responsibilties just to stand in the crowded, dingy, dark stained walled post offices, only to send the limited edition messages. " mother arriving, 8 pm train", grandmother serious, please come immediately" ...They had charges for each brevity meant saving those few coins ;) Telegrams were overshadowed by pagers and then the upmarket mobiles., but the fun was more calculations before trying out various ways to pen down your thoughts, into those miniscule spaces that the standard letters and postcards gave us.

It was fun though, when we would try to open the letter in a hurry and end up opening it at the wrong end, only to realise, that the letter was sliced into half it was a jigsaw puzzle after that.I used to write a lot of letters then, receive as many or many many more...I remember writing on trips to friends giving them a minute to minute updates, writing to my family when I would go away for weeks on NCC camps whining about the food, but raving about the time I was having. Though the fact that the letter would choose to finally reach its destination a week later was no setback, I would love to write. I guess that trait I imbibed frm my father who ,living in a different city because of work, would so lovingly write to each of us in our family a separate common letter for all of us to peep brother was very young a kindergarten kid, but he would get one too...which we sisters would read out to him.

Nowadays I still try my best ( very poorly though) to keep in touch with the pen, paper and stamp routine...some of the stamps I used to have as backup( would buy one whole lot of 1 re stamps to avoid the walk up to the post office to buy them), are ready for archiving, its been that long. I do write a few bits here and there to family, those cards posted for birthdays, or new years...but they have never seen the inside of that solid looking, red coloured tin box on the street side. It goes straight onto the desk of the courier chap, and of it goes in its swanky settings to the more peeling of stamps in a hurry, no more trying to figure out where the card came from.

Times have changed, but some things do remain ; the excitement of seeing a card or letter handwritten, postage stamp stuck in the corner and the black half legible stamped seal on the cover...

I was the lucky one today...and that smile has been pasted and refuses to dissolve..

She said in her latest post, that Friendship can be found in unusual places. It sure does..I met her while browsing gingerly through my new found interest, the 'blogworld'..many posts and a few calls in between we did manage to meet too...was so thrilled to be part of her book launch session...Reading her posts, i'm caught shaking my head constantly, 'cos we are so alike as moms...and when she wrote this post many posts ago, I won her handwritten card prize :D....yes I was grinning then and I am grinning now....I am in receipt of her beautifully handmade card. My sons were so amazed to know that people send cards in such ways too ( they need to be educated on surprises too... ) and they were going " so sweet no ma!!, "awesome" "she made it herself", " why did she post it" " the little one had this to say " how did she send it from there???" and then I knew, I had made my own day...

Thanks Preethi, for the card, for the memories attached to it, for the sentiment that goes with it, and most importantly the friendship that tags along slowly behind it....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

An island of my own!

In our hectic, fast-paced, consumer-driven society, it's common to feel overwhelmed, isolated and alone. Many are re-discovering the healing and empowering role that community can bring to our lives. The sense of belonging we feel when we make the time to take an active role in our communities can give us a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. -- Robert Alan

The only way to make friends with time is to stay friends with people….
Community living is something I love. While growing up as kids, we used to live in apartment complexes, because our father worked in a place that gave him such accomodation. I had no complaints then.It gave me memories of a lifetime.
It taught me that it is:
Easy to make friends.
Families move in and out, so often, you get used to the packers and cartons much more easily than some others .
It taught me to smile even when I heard umpteen hammers banging through my wall. It meant, I would have new neighbours soon..
Dinners were special events during vacations...because we would get permission to go play after. And the fun in playing in the dark, was something we never thought was special then. Now when my kids wonder what to do, after they are exhausted with playing through the entire day, I remind them that they could go play later after dinner, and they oh! so love it.

We moved out , and into a colony culture. The emotional space around me was the same, except the houses were all horizontally aligned. We had more hiding places to look forward to. We got to become very skillful with street games. No matter how many vehicles ( those days, it was more of bicycles and scooters- the la vespa kinds) than 4 wheelers, so our 'lagori', I-spy, hopskotch, etc were all played around obstacles( stones, dirty roads, angry moms, watered down gutters during monsoons, and sometimes, those slithery crawlies called snakes too) Yes! we saw it all...We played games on the sit-outs, after dark, and sometimes had a dinner in a friends house, only because "R aunty's rasam was tastier than our dosas :(...
Life moved on, I got married, moved into my new family and also into a new environment. An independent house bang on the main road. I was in shock...I smiled at all and sundry, when I came out to put rangoli, but only got silent glares in return. I learnt to slowly behave like they wanted me to. No more running out to the next house , cos my rasam was very boring. I learnt to live through it, and learnt to make friends too...I didn't give up , you see..I made friends with the people who came to buy veggetables, the lady from the milk booth, I did it too... and it worked!
And then I wanted my kids to experience the same life I had, we moved into apartments again.
I saw my sons thrive, they learnt to fight out their childhood arguments, withstood bullying, learnt to eat in a neighbours house, without feeling scared. and they actually loved it all
Now I have moved into my own house in an apartment complex. I was worried initially. I was used to a smaller community and this was huge. I had my apprehensions. Would I find my son, if he's hiding under a stairway, what if he gets stuck in the innumerable elevators. What if's became more than 'they can'. It worried me...I had those sleepless nights too...
Life slipped easily into a routine and before I realised it, there were nearly 200 and odd families who had moved in. We began to smile, bump into each others paths and doorways, much more easily. I found my kids easier than I had imagined...I just needed to holler out, and then someone would step out to help in the search..nowadays the search starts by itself...I have kids who give me a regular update about my sons whereabouts, and of course, i'm loving it.
The camarederie with which we all live together, the events we plan together, the laughter that resounds when one of us can't stop cackling, the gossip which returns , the rasam which still tatstes better in the neighbours house. I'm smiling through it all.
Today is ONAM a festival for Keralites. We have a very small number of malayalis in our complex, compared to the
hundreds of others. But when there are more heads that combine, it doesn't matter anymore. They got together to draw out their lovely pookolams, and of course invite us hungry souls for their yummy Sadhya....

I'm still smiling through it all. I know that life's not going to be boring might be too packed and hectic, but it doesn't matter helps me smile through all those stressed 'exam moments', bruised knees, frantic project sessions, endless cooking and tantrums galore. It helps me laugh it all keeps me from "growing old inside"!!!!!