Tag Archives: humour

The Bus Ride

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There is a lot being said, unsaid, condemned about the bus ride which India’s daughter took on that dreadful december night in Delhi….I wonder after that has it really stopped ladies, young girls taking the last bus home from work? Is Delhi really that unsafe… I often wonder. Are all bus drivers unreliable and scary at night? I differ, I had some great memories…

When I lived in that part of the capital I took  public buses, cycle rickshaws regularly .. without any fear or hesitation…I use to work late and travel alone …I wonder if it’s the same now ?

I use to take the 12/22 bus from Noida to Nehru place and then another bus to Najafgarh (the same dreadful route which shook the nation) to reach the publishing house where I use to design magazines…. It was a long commute but never tiring…. The bus helper was always a different guy, the driver also a different person, everyday but the bus was the same…same old damp, soiled so-called luxury seats which would have sparkled someday and that was evident if you would pass your fingers through the velvet fold…there somewhere you would still find the shiny new color hiding away from the world of sweat and grime. You are greeted with the same Bollywood songs everyday every route in a loop, Dhadkan being the favorite album… I knew the score by heart and still if I hear it somewhere it conjures up my bus memories.

Now these were the buses where I made friends with Radio Jockey doing part-time accounting in an ad agency, these were the buses where I got my best shots…I use to often carry my SLR Camera loaded with a black and white film role … yes it was that time when there were no digital cameras and no metros. These were the buses where I always use to look forward to see those pretty Kashmiri girls chatting and talking about the latest fashion in Lajpat Nagar and watch Snoopy Aunty nibble peanuts ( I did know her name but she wore these colorful “Snoopy” T-shirts signed peanuts!). I made friends for a week, a month then never saw them but it was always something to look forward to.

The bus conductors had a fancy way of holding the ten rupee notes all single folded in a fan shape and it always use to puzzle me that they went round with this fancy fan of notes and yet use to complain about change….and this reminds me of an instance where I was arguing with the conductor for change and he refused to give me a ticket…suddenly we have this “he think so that he is good-looking” guy with dark glasses often found on elders after a cataract operation, jumping into the scene and trying to help the damsel in distress….He offered the conductor money and asked to pay for me….I was already fuming and when this ‘Dashing Debonair’ arrived I completely lost it…I yelled at him and asked him would he mind buying tickets for the old man in front seat who was trying to count his last pennies to match the bus fare rather me. He immediately got embarrassed and bought two …Well I thanked him after his virtuous act and smiled at the old man who in return had blessings in his eyes. I have had many such stories each day I did not know what would come my way, but when I think back its always a smile.

The bus I took from Nehru Place to Najafgarh was interesting…it was a mini van where more the merrier was the business plan. Now I had a fan in one of the bus helpers…he use to wait everyday for me to get into the bus and would leave a good clean spot for me…each time I entered he would give me one of his best smiles laced with tobacco. After good 3 months he mustered enough courage to chat me up…. and soon he started lobbying himself as the most eligible bachelor with a good bus business and loads of farmland in Sonipat. Everyday my motive was to get that sweet clean spot and I did not mind his harmless chatter as far as I reached safe and sound till my publishing house. A year later I left my job and so did the route.

I have had some amazing memories of these bus rides with a couple of hiccups where I literally kicked a drunkard out of a bus en route to Gaziabad (not so safe at nights…actually never so safe) and when I had to climb out of the bus window as my greedy bus contractor was busy loading the bus on each stop and just forgot to drop them as a result we all were bursting out of the bus literally. Apart from these minor instances I never felt unsafe or feared walking alone at night…was that a different era , were people different or their circumstance different… probably it just never happened with me.

When I think back all I can say is thank god I was safe!

I wonder do people still have memorable stories of bus ride in Delhi or after the horrid incident its a lull in the bus business…

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Govinda Ala re!

sketchpad12Anyone who lived in Bombay in the 80’s would know what festivals were and how important they were. Deafening loudspeakers yelled at each other from different colonies. All those Bollywood numbers on festivals started from dawn till late in the night until all the neighbour’s started complaining about the volume or till Ballu (the local drunkard) was completely sloshed and out after dancing on those numbers!

Those were the times when lovers dedicated songs on loudspeakers and new love blossomed under the name of festivals.

Holi and Govinda (Janamashtmi, Dahi Handi) were my favorites.

The year started with Holi. During Holi, a huge crater would be dug in the concrete of Amchiwadi and Kiran, the taxi driver, would perform Holika Puja! Kiran transformed into a Pujari (priest) on such occasions, after all he belonged to the Brahmin family and when would all the shloka’s (chants) payback, which he had earnestly learned from his Ajoba (grandpa).

I do not remember about the rituals though but I remember, we kids use to sit around the Holika (burning campfire) and watch all the mummies, aunties and Aajjies (grandmas) come with their thali’s (ceremonial plates) and perform their Puja (rituals). The interesting bit about the entire puja were the coins that were hurled into the Holika. We would sit around the circumference of the crater and watch those coins glowing in the flames.

Each one eyeing the loot!

Come morning and we would jump into that crater even before brushing our teeth. By morning all that was left in the crater would be ashes and dark burnt coins and some grey kids! People around us would be all red, pink and violet with the holi colours but we kids would be busy collecting the coins from crater all grey! Finally the big kids would come and pull us out and take their share from the loot …that was Holi for me all grey and smoky. It was only later in college days that it turned colorful and intoxicated!

Govinda (Krsihna’s Birthday) was my favorite and probably everyone’s favorite in Amchiwadi. A lot of days went into practicing, forming the human pyramid to break the Handi (earthen pot filled with buttermilk which is tied at height.)

Now every year the lightweight Raju was the top most boy in the pyramid and had mastered the art of breaking the handi. Each year the handi went higher and higher but the Amchiwadi’s govinda (the participant of the pyramid, they are called govindas after Lord Krishna’s gang of friend’s, who use to steal butter) also never gave up… they too climbed higher and higher… sometimes the height was as high as 30 feet… the Guinness record is 43 feet! The higher the handi the bigger the prize money… each colony had their own team of govindas and each colony had their handi with prize money. All the neighboring colonies would invite other colony govindas to come and accept the challenge to break their handi… who ever broke the handi would walk away with the prize money… now this was not very simple as it sounds… the govindas formed a human pyramid… sometimes going up to six tiers but the catch here is the colony residents… they would all try and stop the govindas to break the handi by hurling water. The small kids used coloured water balloons and their enthusiastic mothers would hurl buckets of water. All hanging from their windows and balconies. Hurling water, shouting and screaming, distracting the govindas.

Amidst the chaos and excitement we have the loud speakers blaring the famous govinda songs from Bollywood. In the late 80’s every Bollywood actor from Amitabh Bachchan to Jackie Shroff had one song to their name and they too have performed the govinda stunt in their movies. In Bollywood every actor has one such song be it a govinda song or ganesh song…. all of them have danced to these numbers….and during these festivals these songs go on a loop on the loud speakers. By the end of the day I am sure everyone knew the lyrics by heart.

Now coming back to Amchiwadi… Each year Raju our master govinda would be the top guy in the pyramid and would always make sure that their team broke at least four or five handis. They all use to look forward as the prize money would help them run their homes for months. Raju was the local barber’s son, the youngest and the smartest. It was only during govinda that the people in Amchiwadi made the barber and his family feel alive. Nobody knew how many days they slept hungry or how many nights their roof leaked but come govinda, the entire Amchiwadi made Raju and his family feel important.

As I lived on the topmost house with a terrace, every year the boys use to come home to tie the handi and made sure they stacked enough water in buckets, pots, mugs and balloons… to distract the other govinda team.

One such year, I remember we decided to tie the handi really high, almost 30 feet! … Why? We had collected more cash for the prize money and we thought we can’t give the money that easy. Result many govindas came, fell, re-tried and fell again… almost all the neighboring colonies came and tried but none of them could make it. Normally by lunch all the handis are broken but it was almost evening and still nobody could break the handi… finally Raju decided that we will break our own handi… they had practiced the pyramid till five tiers but this one needed at least seven… so without practicing they went for seven… result… they all fell… they all came tumbling down like a pack of cards … everyone took utmost care that Raju fell first and was taken good care of… each time they went up, there was pin drop silence… even the loud speakers were shut but they came tumbling down.

Now I was really tired and wanted this madness to end … I was hanging from my terrace waiting for the handi to break so that the loud speakers would stop and I could get back to my studies… the rope from where the handi was tied was right under my nose. I looked at the rope and then at tired Raju .. Raju caught my eye … I smiled and he winked … Raju pleaded to his team for one last try …

And yes they did it.

There was cheering and clapping, the entire Amchiwadi was dancing… the loud speakers were louder than before and there was no end to the rejoicing… it went on till dawn.

I really wanted this madness to stop, I wanted to sleep and wake up for my exams in the morning.Had I known that the party would never end I would have never lowered the rope.


The Good Girl

The Good Girl

“Let me try no… please I think I will fit …please mummy please”, I kept begging with mummy but she refused.

“Aare nai na babba, you take this ‘Naughty Rabbit Dress’…the other one is for Shelu… she will fit and she is my good girl!”, mummy said handing me the light blue dress (with a white bugs bunny embroidered on it with the words ‘Naughty Rabbit’ encircling it.)

I so wanted that ‘Good Girl’ dress. It was a beige and brown sleeveless dress. A happy looking girl embroidered on it with the words good girl printed across a colorful rainbow..

I loved the seven colors in the rainbow and I really really wanted it so bad but it did not fit me. It was loose and big and a perfect fit for my elder sister Shelu.

I kept sulking the entire way back in the taxi… mummy bought ‘The Good Girl’ dress for Shelu with that beautiful colorful rainbow and I got the silly ‘Naughty Rabbit’!

We went home and Shelu really loved the ‘The Good Girl’ dress .. she was beaming with joy (and she literally beams with her deep dimples when she smiles!). When she wore the dress I realized that yes mummy was right… this dress was actually for her Good Girl, Shelu. With her two long plaits, neatly oiled she so very much looked like the happy girl under the vibrant rainbow. It seemed as if it was made for her.

I feel ‘The Good Girl’ effect lasted forever with Shelu, very sincere and honest in whatever she did or said. I have never seen her do any mischief or any harm to anybody. She was always the well behaved and well mannered, it was the Naughty Rabbit who did all the wrong things and all the mischief.

I remember it was me all the time running and jumping but she was the one who use to fall and get stitches. She was the one who use to pray hard and study harder. She was the one to teach me dance moves and I use to win all competitions. She was better in drawing but I got more certificates. She was always better in everything … She indeed was mummy’s ‘The Good Girl’.

I now wonder what if ‘The Good Girl ‘ dress would have fit me?

p.s. My cousin burnt a hole in the ‘Naughty Rabbit’ dress while ironing, even before I put it on, I wore it nevertheless, secretly happy…


Granny’s Smell

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“ No granny No! You are coming to Bangalore…”

Mane Java de! (Let me go!) … I don’t want go to Bangalore”

“ Come Granny, Natak mat kar (stop creating a scene)… you have to come with us!”

“ You can’t force me I want to stay at Grant Road with Naomi.”

A teenager kept pushing, dragging her old fragile, grey eyed wrinkled Granny in front of me while boarding a flight!

At first I thought the Granny was senile, had gone cuckoo and the young girl was trying to get her into the flight back home, but after listening to their argument I realized that the Granny was quite sane and she did not want to go to Bangalore with her granddaughter but wanted to stay back in Mumbai with her daughter Naomi, living at Grant Road.

It was really difficult for the young girl to get her cotton frock, red scarf Granny to buckle up in the seat!

Granny kept saying “ You cannot force me… you cheated me!”

Everyone on flight thought the granny had gone cuckoo and was giving a tough time to the granddaughter.

I was feeling angry with the young girl, as she was a bit rough with Granny! I was no one to judge but what ever I saw and heard I did not approve of it!

Just because she was old, just because someone else cannot take care of her, because she is weak and does not have enough money to take care of herself? Why did she not want to stay with her son? And why with her daughter? Was she ill-treated?

A million stereotyped questions came to my mind. I wanted to walk up to Granny sitting four rows in front, buckled up! I wanted to know why she was troubled… I wondered.

I saw Granny at the conveyor belt… she kept saying “Mane Java de! (Let me go!)” I brushed against her twice but did not have the courage to help her, but her smell still lingers, that old age smell that comes from old creased, weathered eye people. The smell of age, the smell of stories, the smell of years … I cannot forget this smell, my granny smelled the same.

Moist, warm and earthy!

My Crazy, Loony Granny!

Now this lady my Granny, was a tough cookie… I don’t think anybody could force her into anything, even at the age of ninety she would simply catch hold of me (I was eight!) and walk the busy streets of Bombay, often landing up on the footpath with the cyclists, all bruised! I still remember crimson blood dripping down her creased arms. Ahh! That texture would be really amazing for some of my graphic design work!

Now they say that my Granny was so feisty and courageous that she dug up her brother’s grave, to kiss him one last time. At an earlier time she did deliver her baby at the steps of the village temple, all alone using a sickle to chop the umbilical cord!

Granny always stacked some Hashish with her; village folks always had it in their metal trunks! Each time she baby-sat me, I would sleep soundly! The effect of Hashish, which Granny use to make me lick!

Granny loved me the most, but till the day she passed she didn’t know my name, she was hard of hearing and she always called me by a homophone “Ranju Baby!” I kept correcting her each time but in vein. I remember telling her its not “Ranju” it’s “Anju!” But she never got it!

Granny loved blessing as well as cursing!

She cursed her eldest son that he would go crazy like her and take the same medicines she took! It happened!

She blessed her youngest son, that may he get all the riches and lovely mansion! Bingo!

Now she blessed me “Ranju” to all riches, beauty and intelligence! It never happened?

Because it not “ Ranju” but it’s “Anju”!


Wanderer…

Mama use to call me dhoor! (Wandering dust) … he knew me so well!

I always have wandered… in my thoughts, in relationships and literally too!

I wandered in my Amchi Wadi collecting anything and everything that caught my fancy! When mummy took her afternoon nap… that was the time I slipped out into my adventurous trip of collecting aluminum foil, red and blue stripped milk bottle caps, colourful broken glass bangle pieces to make a kaleidoscope which pappa had promised and which never happened! Scrambling through wriggly Bombay monsoon earthworms to get those shimmery colourful glass bangle pieces (worn by my Marathi neighbors), from below the drain covers … I do not know how and why but that was the spot where I always found them!

I collected Monty uncle’s cigarette stubs too. The filter’s made a lovely sponge bedding for my dolls. I quite liked the activity of removing the sponge from the used stubs. The tobacco smell was quite intoxicating and I remember it was Four Square!

Once I came home elated with my pockets full of black beads, very excited and happy. Mummy got wild, threw them immediately.

I did not know that goat’s droppings looked like beads!

Pencil shaving also figured into my collection. In a vain attempt to make rubber (eraser)! Eraser from pencil shavings?

Recipe for creating Eraser:
Ingredients: Pencil shaving and Milk
Method: Mix and freeze!

So simple… but it never happened! We never ever figured why the rubber never happened? Probably we did not know the right proportions of milk vs. pencil shavings.

The afternoon naptime was also our playtime. Games of the 70’s were chor police, laghori, dodge ball, stappo (hopscotch), Queen of Sheba, and Goldspot!

What was playstaion or gameboy?

I often use to play marbles with the now Shiv Sena turned boys! I played with them then but then when I became Muslim girl I do not know?

I always use to chase all the young boys away and fought for kites that got tangled in our television antennas… I did not know how to fly a kite but I loved to collect the one’s that got tangled in our antenna!

We girls, a bunch of us from the second, first and ground floor played in the passage of the old and the new annexe buildings, known as Chaggan Mansion! The first floor passage was our den. During the hot, humid Bombay afternoon, when all mummy’s and grandma’s had their siesta, we girls came out to play in this passage … Bombay never had gardens or playgrounds … at least not where I stayed! Building passages were our play area, recreation zone. We girls often ended up fighting and neighbor’s came out yelling! Often we use to gossip and share secretes on that first floor passage.

The passage corner was also my haunt for collecting cigarette stubs thrown by Monty Uncle. Monty Uncle with that skull tattoo.

I remember Shalini, describing how she saw naked Monty Uncle humping over Pam Aunty. Shalini was Monty Uncle’s, domestic help and our playmate in the afternoon. We did not have to imagine Pam Aunty (Monty Uncle’s wife) naked cause she always was… in her see through nighties and deep necks!

Monty Uncle had quite a home! A small one room kitchen with a balcony. He had split his one room into two by a crafty, wooden partition. One part was the living room and the other a bedroom. He created great wooden masterpieces in his balcony turned workshop. The most interesting bit about his home was a hammock that hung across his bedroom over his bed! After what Shalini described, I always imagined Monty Uncle and Pam Aunty in that hammock and little Shalini sleeping below that hammock watching them!

Monty Uncle had an amazing pet… Peter Repeater the parrot! Peter was quite a prized possession in the Monty Uncle’s home and it was evident from the spot he resided. Monty Uncle had carved a fancy high, stool to perch his cage right outside the door. Peter the Repeater had a nice big cage all to himself on that fancy stool …we kids often use to tease him, probe him to repeat after us and feed him green chilies! I have heard people parking their dogs outside their doors, they are good guards but Peter was no less… whoever visited the door, Peter would screech and say “Hello aunty, Hello aunty” and I am sure that Monty Uncle and Pam Aunty would get alerted and jump of their hammock!

I often wandered to my storeroom, to a lost forgotten Godrej Steel Cupboard. There were many interesting things stored and forgotten. Some bottles of Chivas Regal and White Dog (gifted by my aunt from Canada… pappa never drank them but gifted them to his business associates), some porn magazines (belonging to my new young cousin brothers who stayed with us then) .. old fancy bell-bottom pants, funny conical padded bras, and all that 70’s stuff… Pictures of mummy in fancy frocks and pappa in smart shades. I loved to check out those old photographs and fancy clothes. I was quite amused by one black and white, Russian porn magazine. It was full of pictures. A story about three nude ladies and a fully clothed, three-piece suite-clad detective. Every time I wandered to the cupboard I found new booties!

One fine day … pappa came home and announced that he was shifting the Godrej Steel Cupboard to our factory office. When the Cupboard reached the factory, the guard called up pappa and announced that the workers have found some liquor bottles and he could only save a few from them…rest are all gulped and finished!

I wonder did anyone find those Russian Ladies?


Mom’s the word!

I know mother’s day is yet to come but my little thank you comes a little early!

My Darling, damp mummy is a hard core romantic and a live wire! Today I am really grateful to this aspiring mom who gave us all that she had to make what we are today! Best of the fashion, best of the schools, best of the college and today best of her prayers!  I know every mom does that, but trust me my mummy is special, nobody does the way she does … true Bollywood style!

My play school (you all know from the forbidden forest) was one of most sought after schools in Mumbai. They said that if you got through this one then you are sorted for life! A bit exaggerated, I know.

Mummy too wanted her daughters to study in this playschool with the forbidden tree and a leaking fountain, but ….yes every story has a ‘but’ and without these ‘buts’ you never reach anywhere! Well our ‘but’ was the principle of this playschool, Ms. Kanga. (A petite Parsi lady in pretty sleeveless frocks and varicose veins.) Ms. Kanga had a rule that all the kids admitted in her school should have ‘English speaking’ parents! Well, mummy and pappa both were well educated ‘but’ in ‘Gujarati medium’!

‘English speaking’, ‘Gujarati medium’, these terms I am sure we all Indians (who live in many states and speak many languages with many dialects!) know very well!

‘But’ mummy did not give up. The application form was rejected and mummy stormed straight into Ms Kanga’s office. Ms. Kanga refused to budge and so did my mummy! The decibel levels went high and one can imagine how high when one Parsi* lady argues with another Gujarati* lady! Mummy was shown the door but mummy being mummy refused to budge from her place. She decided to stay putt in front of the school gate next to my forbidden forest tree! Standing in the hot sun, in the admission month of June.

To add to the drama, Mr. Rain Gods also decided to add some special effects in the already filmy scene. Mummy got completely drenched and soaked in that already damp maxi, but she did not budge! She stood there right in front of the school gate with Ms. Kanga’s office window open.

Mummy’s stunt worked, Ms. Kanga, really got moved. (these Parsi’s* don’t watch a lot of Bollywood movies. They are still stuck with ‘Gone with the winds!’). Ms. Kanga rushed out with a towel to dry mummy up. She got her in her office, dried her up and quietly handed her the admission form!

p.s. Years later my cousin visited the same play school for her child’s admission. She mentioned my mummy to Ms. Kanga (who was really frail and old now) and she still had memories of mummy. She told my cousin that, I have never ever come across a Mother like her in my 80 years!

*Disclaimer: offense regretted.



The Forbidden Forest Tree!

I watched those Makoda’s (big ants) crawling up and down, looking ever so busy on the big old tree. Tree like the ones you see in Harry Potter Movies. But yes, in those days you did not have Mr. Potter or the Forbidden Forest, but the tree looked just from there! (trust me)

I loved (sadistic pleasure) watching the ants and it made me itchy all over, but I loved itching too… this tree stood right in the middle of my playschool with a dead pond and leaking old Victorian fountain. The fountain piddled and formed ghostly patterns. My playschool, a small cottage (bright coloured) in middle of an unkempt garden of a big ruined mansion. The tree, the fountain and the mansion all added to the drama to create the perfect settings, for my ever dramatic life!

Each day, I would go down on my haunches and settle at the roots of this tree (from the Forbidden Forest) and would get transfixed at those ants, marching up and down. I really don’t understand (today) why I did that, but it was almost a ritual that I followed.

“Anju…anju… anjudi… lets go”, mummy would call and I would only respond after the third or the fourth “Anju!”. I would go running to her and hug her. Mummy always came to pick me up from school. Mummy in her long, floral maxi and a duppata (sometimes matching sometimes not)…but she always looked pretty! After all she was My Mummy! Each time I hugged her I use to get the whiff of the “Surf” (washing powder) smell from her damp maxi! Damp? Yah she use to often come to pick me up after finishing the laundry. How I hated that smell of damp cloth and surf then and now I long for it!! Mum no longer washes clothes, washing machines and maid servants have taken over!!!

Precisely this is the first ever memory of my childhood, my haunted nursery (with the Forbidden Forest Tree) and my pretty, damp mummy!!

From there memories keep flooding in, me dancing in my bare minimum (frilly chaddis); kicking the door and singing “ yaar dildar tujhe paisa chahiye… pyaar chahiye ya laat chahiye”.

How can I forget forcing mummy to buy me boiled eggs from a local vendor outside the country liquor bar!! “Mummy… Mummy I want it,” and mummy pulling me away from the vendor getting all embarrassed and red!! The local drunkards use to hang out there to buy eggs and roasted pappads, a little something along with their local narangi drink (homemade cheap liquor). The local bar was a taboo for ladies and I kept pestering mum to buy me those eggs! Finally she would reluctantly buy me one. It was not more about the eggs that caught my fancy rather it was the egg vendor’s mobile shop that intrigued me! I quite like the mobile shop. The egg vendor had a cane cone structure tied up with strings at the center. On the cane a big aluminum thali (platter) with white table tennis look alike eggs lined and arranged neatly. Now when I think back I feel the vendor must have been from Kolkata/ UP Bihar (though Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are two different states in India they often are called as conjoined twins).  That was the time when the entire Bombay (now called Mumbai …sorry I will still call it Bombay) was swarmed by these vendors coming down from their respective states with their local art (cane cones) to sell their goodies like Bhelpuri, Pani puri, Vegetable chutney sandwiches, and some lone ones like my egg and papad guy selling it in front of the local wine bar! ( I often wonder why they are called wine bars when they hardly have any wines being sold there…all they have is addha’s (half’s) and pavva’s (quarter’s) of cheap rum and whiskey.

Those are the only times when I use to eat eggs …I don’t eat them anymore!

My childhood memories are filled with humorous anecdotes, some funny some not so funny but always amusing!

We use to live in Amchi Wadi ( name changed so that I do not have any complications with any political parties/ngo’s or any residents), on a ground floor chawl in a home not bigger than a match box (that’s how my husband described it, the first time he saw it). This match box was 10x16sq feet in area! Well I could call this home, a hen’s coop in some respect as it was often visited by Ramdev Uncle’s (my neighbour) not so friendly hens, who where often chased by the lone cock (full of testosterone) of the colony. These hens would come in a flutter and mess the entire home. It hardly took them any time to helter-skelter the place! Mum use to get wild, and would chase them out… she had sworn to turn them into Tandoori some day! (That was Bombay in the 70’s)

Speaking about amicable neighbors I remember Mr. Yadav picking up a fight with Thomas Aunty! (well it sounds funny I know a male name to a female aunty, but that’s how we kids use to call her!!! All the married males in the neighborhood were uncles, unmarried were Bhaiya’s. Married ladies were aunties and unmarried ones were Didi’s … that was so simple rather than remembering complicated names like Dhanalakshmi Vaidynathan!!)

One afternoon, Mr. Yadav (very docile one) went charging up on the first floor chawl to Thomas aunties home. Why? Aunty was pounding red chilies in her pestle and mortar and she forgot the law of physics, that “every action has and equal and opposite reaction!” Aunty with all her might (84kgs) banged the little chilies so hard that her floor and Mr. Yadav’s ceiling gave away!!! A big slab of plaster and concrete fell on Baba Bhaiya, who was napping at that time after a hard day from college!

Mr. Yadav was a proud father to Baba Bhaiya who was studying in the college to get a degree (so that he can replace his father’s job in the government office). Baba Bhaiya’s afternoon nap was very dear to the Yadav family as he was the only heir to that government office seat!!

Yadav’s daughter, Vidya, a tall, slender, fair, long single plated UP girl! Stood next to me watching the fight….oh how I loved her home stitched floral frocks with side pockets. I always admired Vidya and her frocks very simple, neat, charcoal flavored!!! (they did not have a LPG connection, her mom used charcoal and wood for cooking). Mummy never got me those simple frocks!!! She always made me wear the latest fashion from Bollywood!!! Any new movie with Hema Malini or Zeenat Amaan was released and there a new dress from my masi (mum’s younger sister) and mom’s home production, for we girls!!! You name it and they stitched it, from halter necks to backless, from jumper suits to frills all over!!! We were clones of those bollywood actresses!! Well we were admired the most too but how I longed for those simple floral side pocket frocks like Vidya. Vidya Stood there watching the one day match between Mr. Yadav and Thomas Aunty …so I did I but I kept admiring the frock!

We kids had a blast watching Yadavs and Thomas fight. The best scene stealer was Baba Bhaiya’s Amma (Mrs. Yadav), who kept howling and beating her chest, as though her dear son (the only heir to the government office job!!) had passed away. Well it almost looked like one, since Baba Bhaiya was sleeping with a white sheet covered from head to toe. (Like the last Hindu rituals). The obedient son in Baba Bhaiya refused to budge from the bed with all the plaster and concrete on him till the fight was settled and Thomas Aunty came the swept the entire mess.

Talking about the Yadav’s I remember Mr. Yadav’s younger brother’s family – Doctor Babu’s from UP. The entire family was known as Doctor Babu’s Family! Doctor Babu ki Amma, Doctor Babbu ke Pappa, Doctor Babu ki Bahen. Sadly there was no Doctor in Doctor Babu’s Family! Doctor Babu was a young 14 something, healthy chubby lad always in half pants ( khakhi shorts) and printed white shirts. Doctor Babu’s Amma (zealous and ambitious) was the one to christen the family with that name. Amma always wanted Doctor Babu (sadly I do not know his name, that’s the only name we knew him by) to become a “Doctor” hence she kept calling him Doctor Babu! How Doctor Babu wanted to wear full pants (trousers) rather than the half pants but we was not allowed by Amma. Amma never let him wear full pants as he had to pass his exams to earn the full pants! Amma had high aspirations, but I am sure Doctor Babu never wanted to become a “Doctor” … all he wanted was to wear full pants, play with other boys and fly kites!!

Few years later I heard, as I had shifted away from that chawl to a bigger flat (Pappa was getting richer!!) that they found Doctor Babu hanging from my play school’s Forbidden Forest Tree!


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