Discussions over Tea (Of course, cutting maar ke)

Thursday, September 11, 2003

PERSONAL : Memory Lane, Andheri (W)

The parents are moving houses. While I've been away from home for more than 9 years now, that apartment in Andheri, Bombay lends a semblance of home to me. Dad bought that flat in 1975 for a valuable Rs. 75,000/-. A lot of money in those times. And Andheri was literally on the edge of town. The apartment complex was built on swampy land and when we were kids we used to joke about how it would just go under one of these days.

That lovely house with a lot of empty land visible from the windows of the hall.

That gulmohar tree that occupied all that I could see, right in our society garden. The tree later collapsed after a wild monsoon spell, much to my dismay.

That mango tree, which as kids we would climb to pull down all the kairis (raw mangoes) and take it home and try to con Mom into adding some of it into our food, just for that khatta taste.

Those water tanks at the back, where we used to lie in the night, wondering about the stars. Wondering about life and how easy it was.

All those shops, right outside, where we could get anything under the sun. You asked for it, you got it. Vada pav, Ramesh the sandwich-wala (who even after 9 years remembers that I want my sandwich cut into 9 pieces and not 6, as he does for the rest of the world), the small raddi-walas (Nandu and Ratan) who expanded with all that money and now run one of the largest stationery shops in the area, the madrasi bread-wala whose bread was always fresh (Yes Saar, it's fresh, Saar).

Those friends, all older than me, some of them 6-7 years older. Getting bullied by them, because the only one younger, had an elder brother. Fighting back as hard as I could. Getting nicknamed "billy" (cat) because of my fighting abilities.

The times we performed at the society's annual new year's function. The costume competition where I was Mr. Spock. The dance were we all performed "mere angane mein", much to the amusement of all the girls in the building and later, ridicule.

The times when we had to struggle to get the parents to agree to let us go for dandiya-garba at the neighbourhood building, because they were getting a live orchestra and all the good-looking women turned up there. Can you believe it, a live orchestra?!?!?

All that planning, for Janmashtami, where we practised for days in advance. Then when we got it right the first time, someone at the bottom wondered what the point in that was and got out immediately, thereby toppling the entire structure. Of course, it used to be painful because people from the top came tumbing down badly in all the keechad (muck). Making sandwiches and rasna for the entire building before the handi-phod and serving it to all, after the handi-phod. Going for "Dil" (my first memory of a movie in a theatre) after all this.

Playing football in the rainy season, running in 12 inches of pure dirt, being the forever-goalkeeper, getting hit in the wrong places by a skidding player or football. Mom refusing to let me in until I clean up at the tap downstairs.

Holi, where after we tire of playing between us, go around all the flats tring to coax the rest of the people out, landing up at my place en masse, because everyone knows mom had prepared thandai (of course, without the bhang). Drying down, playing antakshari - the men versus the women.

That was home. And now they move to Khar, albeit to larger place, but to unknown surroundings. That place was an anchor. I'll miss it.

End of Post

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