She is a grand aunt on my father’s side. She lives by herself in a flat in the heart of the city, does her own cooking and gets around in autos to temples, banks, relatives, all on her own mostly. She has done this for nearly 25 odd years since her husband passed away. She doesn’t have children. She regularly calls relatives to lunch and takes great pleasure in laying out an elaborate (decidedly hign calorie!) spread.


She gave away all her jewellery after her husband’s demise. When she was in her seventies, she sold the family home, an old fashioned independent mini bungalow, and got an apartment block constructed. She finalized all the commercial and legal negotiations on her own with some support from her late husband’s brother. She lives in this apartment now and is great friends with the other occupants. She is in touch with all wings of her family and till a few years back even went on pilgrimages with them or with friends. She still does these mini ones around the city. She has written her will (and rewritten it a couple of times J) very clearly demarcating what will go to charity, how her last rites should be performed and what should be done with her personal belongings.


She had not been formally schooled in her childhood and was married when she was in her early teens. Her husband, considerably older than her, was the really old fashioned kind with a fiery temper. She was quite ‘scared’ of him and was always on her toes to ‘serve’ him. Not that she was timid or was victimized, but the husband-wife relationship was very different then. (How much we crib about our lives and status of marital relationships now!) But after his time, she came into her own. All that she has done and is doing now, living life on her own terms, is hardly the result of any formal education. Life is one big school, indeed. I think she picked up some English by reading newspapers. I am not sure she can write in English though. Numbers, she is great with them ofcourse. How else would she manage her finances so prudently all these years with income only from some pension and good investments?


She does hold old wordly views on many things, especially on relationships. Particularly, on the roles of a daughter in law and her (DIL’s) parents in the family. She expects and gets the kind of respectful treatment someone of her generation is used to. When I was younger, I’ve been totally put off with her bossy behavior with my mother because you see my mother is a DIL of the family. She does that even now :).  But on the whole, she has a progressive outlook and has changed gracefully with the times.


Her zest for life and high spirits sustain her. I have never heard her complain about loneliness or the burden of responsibility of dealing with things on her own. Her only regret used to be that she did not have the pleasure of children. Over time, she stopped agonizing about that too. Her inspiration is her own grandmother, a woman of the 19th century, who raised her and innumerable other grandchildren, with the women who gave birth to these children dying young. Her fervent wish has been to emulate her grandmother who lived to 93 years of age. And, she turns 95 years old tomorrow! Happy Birthday, K!




The house that I grew up in at Trichy. Was sold yesterday. Lots and lots of memories. With this, I think my material connection with this town ends. But strangely I felt no emotion. Just this zen calm. Hmmm…….

Dreaming reality

I dream a lot. (day dream too!). I mean, there are many people who say they don’t get dreams in their sleep or perhaps don’t remember their dreams. Most times, I can remember my dreams, at least the broad theme, the next morning.

Some years back there were recurring themes. Walking on a beach just after it has rained, a particularly beautiful temple, a couple of lions(!) and travelling on a very fast train are some of the ones that used to repeat. I don’t think I have analysed it all too much, Freudian or otherwise. Just thought it was interesting.

Other times, it would be based on recent incidents and memories like it happens with everyone. I’ve had my share of waking up saying something or screaming.

Of late, I don’t get too many dreams. And those recurring ones have not featured in a long while.

Last night, I did have one. And woke up coughing violently. I was coughing in my dream too. Clearly remember – in the dream, I was about to be introduced to someone – and I suddenly start coughing and run to the balcony. I got up and had some warm water, it was 4am.
Brahma mhurtham and all that….

So will that be dreamy reality or real dreaming?!

*Detour* That reminds me, someone I know has his vocation printed on the business card as ‘reality consultant’ 🙂 Aren’t we all? *End detour*

So tell me, do you remember your dreams? What are they like?

Raja mania and phantasies!

Been tripping on Illaiyaraja songs these last few days! Great ones like Illaiya Nila, En iniya pon nilave, Katril endhan geetham, Panivizhum malarvanam and many many more…..realised that a lot of songs that I really like have been picturised on Shobha….what a natural actress she was.

And for fun, I’ve been watching these songs on You Tube…some of the picturisations are truly hilarious, absolutely mismatched with the wonderful music 🙂  Check this one out 🙂

Also, husband’s cousin has loaned us bound volumes of Indrajaal Comics. Mostly Phantom, with some Mandrake and Bahadur thrown in. What fun!

Good times are being had 🙂


Look at this –

Very disappointing – the level of rhetoric being employed here. Name calling and sweeping dismissals are not going to help any cause, however worthy, isn’t it?

I am sure there are people in the establishment who do what they are meant to do, albeit with and within constraints. Where is the civility in the civil society, please?

Random memories of a place

Last year around Diwali, I was in Trichy for my cousin’s wedding. We had to take our car as train tickets were not confirmed till the last minute. It was good in a way as we were free to travel as we wished inside the city. Trichy, of course has changed much since my childhood spent there. There are big brands and malls even. I saw a Fab India outlet! As we went back and forth between the hotel, the wedding venue and the temples, I was overcome with nostalgia.

I kept pointing out familiar places to the husband who is actually more familiar with the city having started his career there. Some random memories of my childhood there…..

The commute to school in an auto rickshaw from our colony off the Madurai high road to Melapudur. Anthony, the auto driver, was very careful about taking us girls safely so much so that he had specially designed seats in his auto. I remember looking for particular landmarks/spots/ shops/ people on the way to school. It somehow used to give a feeling of comfort seeing them every day. One such was a small hut where an old lady lived, by the side of the railway track …..

Going to the local temple every Saturday evening for the bhajanai organized by the community. My grandmother invariably told me not to take the prasadam. I never found out why….

The many fund collection/ donation drives I had to do for the school which was run by a convent of nuns. It was quite embarrassing and the teachers used to be amused if we couldn’t gather the requisite funds.

The many cultural events that I participated in the school. I played the Virgin Mary in the Nativity play in my first standard and I still remember the bright purple costume! There was hardly any dialogue to mouth, just looking pretty! Then a stylized dance for which auditions were conducted to select the participants, with music played by our old piano master. The costumes for this dance were handmade by our teachers  – a pleated cardboard skirt and crepe paper top. Each pair wore a different colour. Mine was yellow. I had to change into this costume from the school uniform after the prize giving ceremony. Then for some play or some such, I had to wear black trousers and a bow tie. Remember frantically trying to borrow a pair of trousers from the neighbourhood boys. Don’t remember if I actually got to do the play. Then for a small skit based on a story in our Tamil reader, I played Kunti! Wore a white ‘chinnalampattu’ sari of my mom…good fun it was. I think this was on the day of school inspection 🙂

Walking to Hindi class from our house every alternate evening after school hours. Waiting to cross the Madurai high road. Sometimes my uncle would drop/ pick me up on his cycle. Went on for a couple of years, till I shifted to a govt. school which offered Hindi anyway.

Going with the then BFF who lived in the same colony, on her dad’s scooter, to watch a show in Kalaiarangam. This was in aid of some charity supported by the convent and students had to mandatorily attend. We of course had to purchase tickets too 🙂 The highlight was that Kamalhaasan made a guest appearance on stage, though we were literally back benchers that day!

Waiting for my grandfather to come back every night from his accountant’s job in a medical store in the Rockfort area. He had taken this up post retirement and was at it for ten years. Mode of transport? Bicycle. About 7-8Kms each way. Some days with loads of groceries/ veggies from Gandhi Market enroute. My cousin and I would race up the street to meet him as soon as we saw his cycle turning the corner.

Travelling by bus from Junction to Holy Cross college after I shifted schools. The school was behind the college by the side of the railway tracks. Up to Junction bus stop, Anthony would drop me in the usual auto. In the afternoon, walk from the school up to the Gaiety (or was it Galaxy? Opp. The St. Joseph’s college) theater bus stop crossing a couple of busy roads, take a bus and alight on the Madurai high road and walk about a km inside to our colony. I was 9-10 years old then. Most days I would fall asleep on the bus and the conductor would wake me up. On a couple of occasions I have overslept and travelled with the bus to its last stop and back 🙂 I wonder how much my grandmom would have worried then when I was late.

Oh, I did act in a couple of plays in this school too. One role was of a king – dressed in my grandmom’s grandest silk sari! Watching “Gandhi” at Maris with the whole school. Spent only a year here, and then moved to another city.

And of course, our cows Lakshmi and Rajathi and Rajathi’s boisterous calf Narayanan 🙂

Sadly I have no contacts with anyone from those days. My grandparents have long since moved from there. Their house is rented out and no one goes there now. Most people we knew there have passed on or moved out. Only some memories remain. But yeah, Life was much much simpler then 🙂

P.S: This random rambling was inspired by this post where she mentions schooling in Trichy. Wonder if we went to the same school?!

Pretentious Panchali

I am currently reading Irawati Karve’s “Yuganta”. In her essay on Draupadi, she touches upon what mistakes Draupadi committed and the consequences she had to bear. I’ve heard the common one about how she ridiculed Duryodhana who slipped in the Indraprastha palace when he had come to attend the Rajasuya yagna – and how that led to the Mahabharatha war.

Irawati examines a more subtle point. During the dice game, when Yudhishtira had staked her and Dushasana drags her to the court, Draupadi puts forth a question to the courtiers – that whether Yudhishtira staked her before or after he lost himself. On the face of it, this appears to be a pertinent question. How can you stake someone else’s freedom when you have lost yours?

Apparently, the social mores for slaves in those days did entitle them to certain rights. Irawati doesn’t elaborate on this. But she says that in the hideous situation that she was in, Draupadi would have done well not to display pretentions of wisdom – arguing about legal distinctions! If the court had answered ‘before’, then she would have to become a slave, if the answer was ‘after’, her condition would have been far more pitiable. Rather, if she had pleaded for decency, the court might have managed to halt the misbehaviour of the Kauravas and by extension, the course of the Mahabharata itself. As such, only after she stopped arguing and surrendered herself to Krishna, did the events take a different turn.

Well, I am not sure about that, Draupadi’s is a complex character and the Mahabharata is a complicated epic. It would be pretentious of me to make any frivolous judgement on the epic and its characters 🙂

But I would do well to remember this talk of pretension ( and consequences, of course). How many times in our daily life do we act this way – talking of things that we have no/ limited knowledge/ experience/ authority of? At the very least, should try to be honest to the conscience…..

On a lighter note, when I was mulling over this, the face that came to my mind was not Rupa Ganguly’s (who played Draupadi in BR Chopra’s tele version – it would have been natural if that had happened, grew up watching that). But it was of one Ms. Roy, the creator of Estha and Rachel!



Since my last post here, quite a few significant events have happened around us. We won the much coveted ICC World Cup in Cricket, a royal wedding took place and the world’s most wanted terrorist was killed…..all within a week.

Closer home, people power ensured government changes and  “hopefully” a baby step towards tackling corruption was taken.

Still closer home, the son learnt swimming and went to watch an IPL match second year in a row.

And me…what did I do of significance?

Went on stage after more than six years! Performed a short piece (Bharatanatyam – a padam) of about 10 minutes in complete costume before a sizeable audience. Hopefully, this will enthuse me to get started on some parts of my bucket list 🙂

Sheila ki jawani or….

….the advent of our budhapa! 🙂

Last weekend, when I was out of town, the husband texted me that he heard the son humming this song! He wondered what would be next. And when I was back, made me check with the son as regards to where he picked this song up from, what more he knew about it etc….:) Lot of kids in the play area in the building complex apparently sing it and son has caught the first line and the tune of this song.

I didn’t know which ‘growing up’  to smile at – the son actually having a gang of friends with whom he interacts on mundane/ normal things (he used to be a terrible nerdy introvert :)) or the concerned parent the husband has turned into from “the singing ‘ennadi rakkamma’ with gusto” young man he used to be 🙂

Cuteness quotient

Last night, after India won the match against Australia, our three year old niece called my husband and said ‘Congratulations, Periappa!” Of course, my sister would have tutored her, but it was just too cute 🙂  The husband says she kept saying it some 5-6 times and then wished him good night some 10 times and rang off! Needless to say, the periappa was THRILLED!


This morning I broke the news of our win to the son as he woke up. He was ofcourse delighted and told me, “Amma, I told you we can beat Australia!” Then he promptly conspired with his Patti to take the ever skeptical Thatha’s trip. So, the newspaper was hidden. Thatha emerged from the bedroom as last minute homework was being done. And was told that India lost by a margin of 30 odd runs. Thatha’s rant began – about our ineffective batting, wayward fielding, weak bowling, lack of team spirit, resemblance to bowling pins and so on. Patti and I had to run away into other rooms to hide our smiles. Then it was getting late, so Patti said…. it is not even April Fool’s Day today…..Thatha took a few minutes to catch on 🙂 And the son did a little jig and high five with Thatha sporting a huge grin on his face and we were off to the school bus 🙂 Happy, happy!