Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chapter 1 - of being cocooned in Ooty

Disclaimer : These are just incidents from my life and I don't mean to offend anyone. And, don't get judgemental. What's here is mostly just the past.

A few more days and two things will hold good. One, I'll be on the wrong side of 30 (officially). And two, a new chapter in life begins. Co-incidentally, I got introduced to Travel With Neelima and to her  Neelima's 30 things to do before 30.
Like every other girl who has/will read this, retrospection was needed.

Would I have come up a list which had items close/similar to that?

No. I would never have thought of being published in a magazine or the newspaper or standing on a camel. Oh yes, I did feature in a local newspaper in Ooty after I got the highest score in secondary school but that was not aspirational.

The one and only aspiration I had was to travel to Switzerland. Well, I've not done that yet. The rest was always about getting married to a good guy after I turned 21, having kids and getting them married. God!! Seriously!! Is that all I could have thought about? Well, these are the voices that are ringing in my head right now.

X : "Feature, furniture a thas?" (Translated from Sindhi : Is the girl good looking and from a rich family?)
Y : "When making the chappati dough, there should not be any flour or dough sticking to the sides of the thaal. That's how they will test to see if the girl knows how to cook"
Z : "When a girl gets married, for the first year, she should listen to her in-laws and do just as they say. Then on, the in-laws will do as you say and you will be the queen of the house"

Believe it or not, these have affected me in some ways and have been a part of the moulding process.

This post and the next few will show sneak peeks into my life that was and has been. Incidents that have shaped me into the person I've become. I've decided to split this into chapters based on the places in which I was based at for considerable periods.

"of being cocooned in Ooty" is the first one in the series highlighting the limited application of thought by moi and the general mindset of most middle class business families.

"... as long as I have a roof over my head, food to eat and lots and lots of love...."
Well, that's how one of the expectations that I had from my marriage goes. "And they lived happily ever after" - that's how most movies of 80s end. Boy and girl fall in love, finally get married or get together and they live happily ever after. So, obviously that had to be an expectation. Well, it should not have been the only expectation. (It was not, thank my husband for that. More on this in another chapter)

Being born into a fairly affluent family of the time, I was sent to the best day school for girls, St. Hilda's. Moi had a life full of love, care, affection and anything that one could ask for. Hop-skip-and-jump and I was at the bus stop. The school bus would wait if I was a bit late or I got a second chance to get onto the bus as it came back from Finger Post. Honestly, how much simpler could life have been?

Ours was and is a joint family and I don't remember even one occasion on which there was an argument between two individuals.(Yes, things change) I don't remember ever seeing my parents fight or argue. Ok, I'm trying to drive in the fact that there was no exposure to violence of any kind, save for the stray chappal that "Mayaji" (our granny) threw at us in frustration, when we kids were up to something naughty. She always missed.

"Mayaji" always had a maid servant for every job. Every morning, she sat at the dining table and ensured that every corner was dusted and that the house was put in order. So, obviously, the naive me thought that it was as simple as having a maid servant to do the house chores. Who cared about where the money to pay the maids came from?

Who also cared or thought about where the food came from? Food was and is still aplenty at home(touch wood), cooked on time and served hot. Most times, one did not even have to move even a finger to get a plateful of scrumptious food in hand. For special goodies, one had to run to the small store opposite the house ,"up shop" as we called it, and get the chocolates on "kadan"(credit). It was grand mom who had to settle the credits. Yours truly had one dairy milk every day. Yes, I am paying for all that now - at the dentist.

Clothes were bought for occasions and by visiting relatives. How I used to look forward to wearing that new frock or that new shoe. It mattered not if the frock was in fashion or was it of the trending colour or if it had a brand label. All that mattered was that I'd got a new outfit and I'd wait for the next kitty party, temple function or birthday party to wear it to. Kitty parties were a monthly ritual where aunties showed off their hosting and culinary skills and we kids got to play some fun games like "tail the donkey", "lemon in spoon", "passing the parcel with punishments", etcetera. Mom and aunt also had a book on hosting and games. Who even tries to put in that effort now? You just head to the nearest pizzeria.

Every year, these relatives visited us for 2 whole months. There were times when we had around 50 people at home and we'd sleep in the living room. Those were the times when life was easy, less materialistic and of fewer worries. It was more about building and maintaining relationships.

I was mighty proud of the swing in our compound. I was mighty proud of the huge play area around my house. I was mighty proud of the size of my house. But, I never thought of what had gone in for me to have all of these things, to call them mine. Not once did I think of those who did not have a roof over their head. Yes, we used to provide food to the poor outside the church. Yes, we used to serve food at the deaf-and-dumb school.

There were the school excursions every other year. They gave a glimpse into the outside world. Being from a business family and in a tourist spot, our travels were few and limited to may be attending weddings in South India. Moi went on every excursion that was organised while in school without thinking about how much they cost. All that one would think about was how much pocket money to carry and what would be the things to buy from the place. Dad paid for all of them and I did not realize until the very last one to Nepal where I had to beg him to send me. That's when, at the age of 16, that money became a reality for me.

Another thing about these excursions are that they are all pre-planned for and teachers all around provide security. There is no need to worry about missing a train or getting lost.  One is cocooned from the actual nitty gritties of planning a trip, booking stay at a good hotel. Not once, not once did we stay at a bad hotel.

The latter part of this chapter of my life, saw me flirting with infatuation and crushes. This carries on, into the next chapter too but it all started here. The fad of boys and girls buying each other cards and gifts saw its rise. Archies outlets sprung up everywhere. Everyone around was having a boyfriend and/or was getting proposed to. Friends link you up and you end up thinking it is all for real. Absolutely zero thought into what might actually be in store.

Chapter 1 ends with moi scoring a good percentage and deciding to pursue engineering. Moi had no idea what engineering was about except that it was a 4 year course and that's exactly what I wanted. I did not want to get married before I turned 21 and a 4 year course meant marriage after 21. Moi had no idea as to what had to be done to get into engineering, but it all fell into place. Well, thanks to the efforts of my aunt and uncle who did the needful.