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 too. In “Stories From My Home“, I examine the many objects surrounding me at home and attempt to document and share the memories associated with them, one story at a time. 

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.

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Of music and memories in Pune: 22 years on

It doesn’t take much to trigger off old memories. Take for instance the invitation I received to attend a classical music concert by renowned flautist Milind Date at the Gandharva Mahavidyala, Pune.

The invitation took me back to the time I was studying in Fergusson College (Pune) where Milind and I were batchmates with some common classes and practicals.  We were not close friends or belonged to the same ‘group’, but were more of acquaintances with some common friends. All through college, I had no idea of Milind’s music and got to know of it only in my third year of college. How I got to know is a story worth sharing, but I request for a little patience from you.

Milind and I re-connected many years after college when I joined Facebook in 2007 and over the next few years, remained in touch via Facebook. I followed his concert announcements and tours and listened to the snippets that he would share, but never managed to meet him or make it to one of Milind’s live performances. The invitation was a chance to remedy that. 🙂

The invitation was doubly attractive as it was taking place at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, where I learnt Hindustani Classical music. Every Wednesday morning, for 2 years, I attended vocal music classes before college. I loved everything about my music school — my guruji, the traditional architecture of the school building, the cool whitewashed halls and dhurrie-covered floors, the music rooms lined with tanpuras, sitars, harmoniums and tablas… Those musical mornings were magical and after a world filled with Bihag or Kaafi or Yaman or Patadeep or whatever raga I would be learning at the moment, it would be difficult to concentrate in my college lectures.

In other words, it was musical heaven and one that I had not visited in 22 years. And after I receive the invitation, I could not wait to visit it again after all this time. So that Wednesday in January, I took the afternoon bus to Pune to arrive well in time for the evening concert.

You know that feeling when you are about to meet someone or return to a place after a long time? That feeling of mounting excitement? That’s what I was feeling when I got off the rickshaw and walked towards the entrance to Gandharva Mahavidyalaya.

Continue reading “Of music and memories in Pune: 22 years on”

My “now” song: Yesterday once more

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music—it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’”song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

My now song is “Yesterday once more” by The Carpenters from their 1973 album Now & Then and written by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis.

Along with the heat and humidity, the summer brings on nostalgia for me. Of summers spent with my maternal grandparents in Mumbai. Of golden mangoes, chilled sugarcane juice and bhelpuri. Of cricket and hide & seek with cousins and friends. Of Pallankuzhi and stories with Paati. Of reading story books in the hot afternoons. Of listening to the radio and singing along . . .

I was thinking about all this while travelling to work by bus today morning. And almost on cue, as if approving of my nostalgic thoughts, a co-passenger’s mobile phone rang. Can you guess what the ringtone was? Yesterday once more. 😀

So what nostalgic memories (and songs) do you associate with summers? Tell, tell 🙂

Mumbai Lens: The Shoe House

This blog post was featured in the “Around the Blog” section of the DNA newspaper published on February 27, 2012 (pg.6).

I did my first 4 years of schooling in Mumbai and without fail the annual school picnic followed the same pattern—a visit to the Byculla Zoo, followed by lunch in the grounds there; then a quick visit to the Gateway of India; and finally a drive along the Marine Drive to the Kamala Nehru Park at Malabar Hill. This is part that we kids would be waiting for—a romp in the grounds and a visit to the Shoe House in the Park (and not necessarily in that order).

The Shoe House, which is supposedly inspired by the nursery rhyme “The Old Woman who Lived in the Shoe”, was the star attraction for us. A larger than life shoe-shaped house, painted a bright yellow with red shoe laces, a red roof and red chimney—it was every kid’s dream house. We would climb the narrow stairs in twos and threes to the balcony and wave out to the other classmates and feel that the Shoe House and the world belonged to us ! Ah the thrill and joy that little climb gave us.

The Shoe House at Kamala Nehru Park, Mumbai

Continue reading “Mumbai Lens: The Shoe House”

Nostalgia time: The 2011 ISH alumni reunion in Mumbai

I have always wondered about alumni reunions, you know. Particularly since I have never attended one in spite of having studied in 8 schools, one college, and two universities. To be honest, I have never felt the need to as I have been in touch with special friends from school/college/university. Besides, I have found many of my batchmates over the years, courtesy Facebook.

At least that is what I told myself. Whenever I heard people talking about attending read accounts of alumni meets, I always felt a twinge of envy.

I no longer feel that twinge as I finally attended my first alumni reunion the day before yesterday. It was not an alumni reunion of any of the schools/college/universities I have studied in; rather, it was of a place I had stayed in — the International Students House (ISH), London. The alumni reunion is special as ISH is probably the only organisation in the world, outside of an educational institution, to have an alumni association.

When I received the email invite a few weeks back, I instantly went into a rewind mode to the year spent at ISH in London.

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