Amma, My mother

Amma

My cell phone buzzes softly.

It is the 5.30 pm alarm, the one I have set as a reminder to call Amma.

I’m at work reviewing the work done that day and simultaneously making a list of tasks to be completed the next day. I still have about 30 minutes of work left before I can really call it a day and head home.

But first I call Amma.

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Stories from my home – 3: The photographs in the envelope


We don’t always have to travel to seek stories; they are right there in our homes. I never cease to be amazed by how much we take things around at home for granted and this series is an attempt to remedy that. In “Stories From My Home“, I re-look at many of the material objects surrounding me at home and attempt to document and share the precious memories associated with them.


It was close to noon sometime last week. I was at work and wrestling with some pending bills, my least favourite task in the world.

“The morning mail’s here and there’s a packet for you,” announced G, my office assistant as she came into my room and handed a medium-sized envelope to me.

“Personal or official?” I asked, glad for the distraction.

“I think it is personal,” said G as she turned to leave.

“It is. And I know what’s inside too,” I said when I saw the return address on the envelope. “Go, get the others. I think all of you will like to see this.”

Within minutes my office team had gathered around my table and the envelope had been cut open and its contents spread on the table — lots and lots of photographs of my family, many of which I was seeing for the first time.

Photos, memories, stories, Black and White

“So many photographs!” exclaimed a team member. “Someone in your family must have been very fond of photography.”

As we went through the photographs, I told them of the two photographers in the family who had taken the bulk of the photos. I also shared the memories and stories behind the ones I could recognise, and how the photographs in the envelope came to be sent to me.

Continue reading “Stories from my home – 3: The photographs in the envelope”

There’s a Tablet in the house – Part 2

“How could you be so careless?” Amma glares at me.

“Well… you know, I just forgot.” I try to look nonchalant and cool; needless to say, I fail miserably.

“Forgot? How can you forget your mobile in the office? You have it attached to you like an appendage at other times !”

“I do not !” I protest.

“Amma, don’t exaggerate,” pipes in my brother, who’s visiting from Pune and is busy surfing on my Dell Venue Tablet. “This is not the first time your daughter has forgotten her mobile in office. You should know by now that she does it quite regularly.”

I glare at my brother and he grins back cheerfully. Really ! Is this the time to bring up this habit of mine?

“Yes. But is this the time to forget? What are we supposed to do now? How will we know what time Dr. Shashank’s coming? Or even if he’s coming today.” Amma is, to put it politely, in a flap.

“Of course, he’s coming, Amma. Dr. Shashank did say the last time he was here that he would be here today at 8.00 am,” I say soothingly

“He also said that he will confirm with you,” Amma snaps at me. “And in case you haven’t realised, it is 8.30 am and he isn’t here yet. He must have sent a text message to you about today’s session.”

I wisely keep quiet.

In case you’re wondering who Dr. Shashank is, and why my mother is in such a dither over him at 8.00 8.30 am that morning, read on.

Continue reading “There’s a Tablet in the house – Part 2”

There’s a Tablet in the house – Part 1

“Can you play the tanpura before you go?”, Amma (my mother) asks. I have just settled her in bed for the night and have switched on the night-light when she makes this request.

“Of course,” I say, reaching for the Tablet kept on the nightstand. I switch on the Tanpura App and within seconds a soft, sonorous drone fills the room. Amma smiles with pleasure and within minutes she’s fast asleep. I wait for a little while before leaving the room, reducing the volume a bit.

“Paati’s (Tamil word for grandmother) asleep?” asks AA, my niece, as I pass her on the way to the kitchen.

“Yes. Let the tanpura play for another 10 minutes or so and then you can use the Tablet if you want to,” I tell her.

“Okayyyyyy, ” AA drawls out her thanks.

“And after you finish, AA, I’d like to use it for a while. I want to catch up with the news,” calls out her mother and my sister-in-law, SV.

“Okayyyyyy. I won’t take more than 10 minutes; just want to check my FB and mail,” AA replies.

When I look in to say goodnight to SV and AA about half-an-hour later, I find that they are sharing earphones and watching something on the Tablet intently. I smile and head for bed thinking how quickly a device that everyone in my family had not shown any interest in, had suddenly become the most convenient and coveted thing in the household.

That device was a 8″ x 5″, book-sized, Dell Venue Tablet sent to me last month as part of the Dell blogger review programme.

Dell Venue Tablet, Product Review
The Dell Venue Tablet

Continue reading “There’s a Tablet in the house – Part 1”

Papakudi Meena

It was a little over noon when the train from Madras pulled into Dadar station in Bombay. It had been a long journey for the weary and grimy travellers, who disembarked with a sense of relief. Some were being received by family and friends, while many more were just making their way out of the station on their own.

Ram looked fearfully out of the train window. This was his first time in Bombay and he had never seen so many people or heard so many languages spoken at one time. He had also never smelt anything like this before—the smell of so many people, sweat, the salty air and his own fear of the unknown. His first instinct was to take the next train back to Madras and then another to his native village in southern Tamil Nadu. That’s when he thought of his family back home and the reason he had come to Bombay—to make a living like countless others before him, and countless others after him.

He took a deep breath, gathered his belongings and resolve, said a prayer to his favourite god Shiva and stepped off the train. He now had to make his way to his cousin Meena’s house in Matunga; Meena’s husband, Raman had promised to help him find a job. But first he needed to get to Meena’s house, which he had been told was not too far from Dadar station.

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Appa

The mood was quite festive in the shop. It was the first day of the 10-day Ganpati festival and customers were lining up to collect their pre-booked idols to take home. They would give their names and man at the counter would check against the labels attached to the various idols and hand over the correct one with some flowers and coconut, and a loud “Ganpati Bappa Morya”.

Soon it was our turn to collect the Ganpati idol we had booked.

“Namaskar,” said the man at the counter, “What is your name?”

“Ganapathi”, said Appa (my father).

“Uncle, I asked for your name,” said the man at the counter.

“Ganapathi,” repeated Appa.

“Uncle, I know you have come to collect your Ganpati idol. I want to know the name you have booked it under,” said the man at the counter, a little impatiently now.

“That is what I have been telling you. My name is Ganapathi,” said Appa patiently.

The man at the counter looked a little stunned and then burst out laughing. “Sorry, Uncle. I have never had a Ganapathi come to collect a Ganpati idol.” He handed over our pre-booked idol with the flowers and coconut, and then came out of the counter to touch Appa’s feet and ask for his blessings.

Whenever Appa shares this incident, which happened about 10 years back, with family and friends it always brings forth lots of laughter. And during the Ganpati season, it is a much repeated story. The 2011 Ganpati season is underway now and this year too, the story will be narrated, not by Appa, but by us with a bittersweet tinge. For Appa is no longer here to narrate this incident. He passed away a month ago.

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