Thursday, March 27, 2014

Women Who Influenced/Moulded Me - III

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Muthu Maami, we call her! She came home yesterday to see the new house! She is 88 years old now. She lives alone though she has got two sons who are well settled.  One is here and one is in outstation.  But she wants to take care of herself.  She has got her own house but split it into 3 portions and lives in a small portion which she says, is easy to manage alone.  She has let out the other portions.  Yes, she is from a well to do family, but like our ancestors, she doesn't spend anything unnecessarily.  Very calculative, but is friendly with her neighbours and help them when needed.  Since she lives in the same house for more than 50 years, everybody knows her.  She lost her husband around 25 years back.  Sons were already married and have got children.  But she insists on living alone.  When they visit her, she cooks for them and feed them well.  The grand children love her and admire her.

She got married when she was 16.  She had an attack of small pox and so, the marriage was a bit late according to those times! She couldn't write the SSLC exam because of the attack of small pox. She lived mostly with her widowed mother and widowed grand mother.  That was the reason she is very rigid about not mingling with outside people, she said.    She herself cooks and never eats outside food.  One meal at about 10 am in the morning...rasam, curry or greens with rice (her menu is mostly the same, she says!).  Until she eats, she doesn't touch anyone, even family members...my grandma also was like that! Does her pooja at home, visits the street corner temple everyday before having her food.  Have one or two dosas or poha at about 3 pm.  Coffee, only in the morning! She takes one fruit at night...her food for the day is over!  Very rarely she gets knee pain nowadays, she says.  No BP or sugar! I think, eating less is the best medicine!

Now, let me tell you, how she came into my life!

After our marriage, we lived in a nice small house but because of severe water problem we had to shift and we came to Maami's house.  Maama also was alive then and they were building upstairs and so we shifted to the small portion first. They were planning to shift upstairs once it was ready.  I was working then.  Within a couple of months I was carrying my first son.  They had a well at home in those days.  I had to pull water from it for everything...it was a temporary arrangement.  The taps came later.  Since ours was a family of just two, it was not difficult. After some days,  I started vomiting.  I used to get up early, cook breakfast, lunch, pack for both of us.  Then start eating breakfast...I was so hungry that I used to eat a lot! As soon as I finished eating, I used to have some curd in the plate itself.  No dining table in those days (1976!).  Immediately I used to vomit everything on the plate itself...hearing the sound, Maama and Maami used to come running, make me get up and clean the place within minutes.  They gave me some lemon juice and I was running to my office with my lunch bag.  Maami and Maama were not very young, remember! Our kitchens were next to each other at the backyard. So, it was easy for them to hurry and help me! Husband used to get up late and have coffee, breakfast and take lunch! He was like that, then! Since Maami cleaned my mess, she used to take bath again and continue cooking! Both of them used to fill my bucket with water most of the time, since they didn't feel comfortable watching me pulling water from the well!

I had to walk for 20 mts. to catch the electric train.  Then after getting down, I had to walk for another 20 mts. to my section in our office.  I had friends there.  They used to bring snacks...whatever they made at home and feed me in the office! Some young boys, who were technical assistants, also brought some snacks which their mothers made at home!  My manager was supplying lemon juice from the officer's mess if he noticed that I was feeling sick! Well...let me come back to Maami! I used to come back home at about 5.30 - 6 pm.  Go straight to Maami's portion to get the keys.  Sit there and chat with her for sometime.  She used to give me a cup of coffee with our milk (in those days, a man was giving us cow's milk in the morning as well as in the evening! No fridge then!).  She used to boil it and give me coffee, for which I was very grateful, I remember.  The whole street was pampering me...whatever snack they prepared at home, some portion was set aside for Sandhya (paavam, pillaithaaichchi ponnu! means, poor pregnant girl).  I used to eat all those things and then open my portion of the house and start cooking for the night! Both of them, Maama and Maami,  were very protective about me!  I was working until 8 months' pregnancy was complete and then stayed at home.  As I said earlier, the whole street was taking care of me.  Since we had some problem with my parents, they were not in the picture, then! My sisters in law used to visit us once in a while!

Then the D-day came.  Maami had asked one of her known person, Seetha Maami to come and stay with me and take care of me. We were paying her...she too took care of me like a mother.  Actually, Muthu maami was supervising everything. She came to the hospital with me. Since she was reluctant to touch anybody, she was sitting in a chair, saw the baby and mentally calculated his horoscope and said that 'this baby has brought luck to you and you will be well off, hereafter!' It happened!).  She went home, bought chocolate on the way, it seems and distributed them to the whole street...she had her first grandson! Her real grand children came later! I came back home on the 3rd day.  God, I cannot forget the way she and the Seetha Maami took care of me and the baby.  Both Maamis were very orthodox.  They would help me in the morning, bathe me and the baby and then go out of the room, cook and eat.  Then feed me! We call it 'pillai peththa theettu'.  After delivery, people should not touch both mother and baby for 11 days...they can, after a small 'cleansing ceremony', a pooja at home, which is called, 'punyaajanam'.   One iron pounder (irumbu ulakkai) will be kept near the door to block others coming in...to protect us from outsiders, even husband! He can come in and touch the baby for sometime,  in the mornings, before taking bath but should be clean before entering! Even I feel funny thinking of those days.  But it was like that then, in those days,  in my grandmother's place too! Even after the pooja, I was not allowed to come out, esp. with the baby...nazar lag jaayegi....drushti padum! The baby was very fair and good-looking, so they were more cautious about letting others see the baby.  One plate with red water (turmeric powder and sunnambu - lime, mixed together in water) with a piece of charcoal kept in the middle, was kept at the doorstep for blocking bad vibes!  If some women came and visited, the baby would cry the whole night...it was difficult for me to believe, but it happened! When the baby was 3 months old I started working again.  Maama and the two Maamis took care of the baby.  He was a very healthy baby, thanks to Maama and Maami.  She fed me with all the herbal medicines which normally they gave to a woman who delivered...the baby was given oil bath every alternate day...! My son was very close to Maama! Then we shifted to Bangalore when he was 8 months old. Hmmm...it was tough for me to take care of the baby and home, alone in Bangalore!

Muthu maami was and is, a strong lady.  She never bothered about other's comments.  She did what she felt right.  She handles her finances (rent money, FD interests and so many other things) even now.  She asks her son to help if there was some problem! She used to advise me to keep some money aside...'husband need not know about it always! It might be useful someday in an emergency', was her advice! I try my best to follow it!!!

Her day's routine is simple...she wakes up very early, sometimes at 3 or 4 am.  If it was very early, she writes a page of 'ram ram'.  It takes half an hour, it seems.  Then take bath, cook, pooja, temple visit and eat.  She never sleeps in the afternoon.  She has let out for an office in the upstairs.  She receives their posts, couriers etc. 'I am their dispatch clerk', she says.  People keep on coming to her often.  When I was there, one man came and asked for buttermilk with a small cup.  She gave some and then said 'I am going out now.  Keep an eye on the house'.  The man replied 'give me thousand rupees, I will do it'...he said this without smiling! Maami replied, 'Give me two thousand rupees for the buttermilk' and came inside, without smiling! That man went off laughingly...he was the watchman of the flats on the opposite side!

She always had cats and kittens at home.  The names were like Vasu, Achyuta etc.! She feeds  a couple of stray dogs which sleep in her compound everyday! She talks to cats and dogs as if they are humans (like me!).   Never watches serials in TV.  Watches 'bhaagavata saaram' in Tamil in the afternoon, it seems.  Her cat always comes home at that time, watches the serial  and goes out later, she said!  I think this nature keeps her happy and active always. Oh, I remember her making wire bags and sweaters (I was also doing them when I was with her), sell them and offer the money to the temple!

She had some raagi dosa and a fruit at home, yesterday.   I had kept the kitchen very clean before bringing her home...I wanted her to feel comfortable eating at our place.  She had visited us in Bangalore and Hosur but always cooked her own food and fed us too!

I took my son to her place before he went abroad, to get her blessings.  I don't think people like her are there anymore...even I am not so generous like her...but try to help people when needed...learnt from her. I was with her only for around 17-18 months at a crucial phase of my life...but will never forget her, always!


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Women who influenced me/moulded me, Part I

Women who influenced me/moulded me, Part II

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday!

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Monday, March 10, 2014

My Latest Friends, Dummi And Others!

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This is a 'sort of' happy post! Remember, how I was brooding for shifting from our old house to a new flat, here?!  It was during last May '13.  Now, my mood has changed completely, thanks to the  clean environment here at the new place!  Yes, I enjoyed living among fragrant flowers surrounding the house, but the house was situated in the outskirts and so we had open drainage, which meant, dirty stench.   Now, the underground drainage is coming there shortly!  Apart from the flowers, I enjoyed the cats, their families, birds, their families, butterflies, etc.  We were watching many sun bird families too, but I couldn't capture them in my camera.  These pleasant memories of that house will always be there. 

Now, we are living in a flat.  The compound has many croutons and flowers without fragrance.  But they look green! The next compound has got many trees.  Though we don't see different kinds of birds often, we see parrots and sun birds occasionally.  We hear the lovely sound of Bul bul birds too! But we see crows, crows and more crows everywhere, nearby! So, I have started enjoying them, watching them which is not very new for me, though!  Have a look at my old post here!

I place curd rice in my kitchen window sill and many crows of all sizes and shapes, come here to eat it.  I see many andangaakka (Jungle crows) which have got shiny, beautiful coat! They take chapatis from my hands when I give them through my kitchen window!

I see other entertainers too, like these:


Baby Monkey came into our compound today! It was fun watching him!

Click on the photo and you can notice the make-up on his face, clearly!

The red/orange sindhoor-like teekha, eyes are full of kaajal and one black drushti pottu (what do we all it in English?! It is placed so that kisi ki nazar na lag jaye!) too on the cheek.  Some cloth is in his waist and one belt-like band too! Neck has got colourful beads! My maid said that he must have come here from the next door Murugan temple! One man sits there with monkeys, it seems.  He was making different types of sounds, sitting on the compound! We, flat people, were all standing in our balconies, throwing bananas, carrots etc. to him.   He ate just one banana! I think he was here for a couple of hours.  We were worried about the crows which were sitting on top of the trees waiting to peck him! I think he went home without any harm! The man should have come and taken him home.


This peacock is a regular visitor in our compound.  We give him fried grams! A small girl from one of  our flats, stands very close to him and gives him fried gram! He is also from the next door temple! This bird is Muruga(Subrahmanya)'s vaahana/transport!





This area is full of crows, I said...proof is here! These birds used to fly across the flat from our kitchen window to the other side via our balcony.  They started flying like that even after we occupied this house.  So, we tied the wire,  like it is shown below, to block them.  We lift from one side and place curd rice for them now!
 
This one is a regular visitor for our curd rice...he is a pest...keeps on making different sounds from his throat without opening his beak!  Sometimes he makes full-throated sound which blocks my music sound, which I hate! I love to hear Kishore Kumar's music than Kaakka music!


This one acts like a baby always! He was born here in a nest in the next tree.  He was always sitting in between his parents, for many months.  One of them always fed him.  He had a 2 inch gash at the back of his neck for a long time.  He was just sticking to his parents.  Now, his gash is gone and sits mostly here! He takes a piece of chapathi from our window, goes there, places on the branch and within minutes, a squirrel will come running to the chapathi and starts eating! He will watch from another branch...this happened even today morning!


This is Dummi!

Dummi is always there in the morning when I enter my kitchen, waiting silently.  Sometimes I give him one biscuit.  He never pesters me like the one about whom I told you earlier!  He just waits there till 8.30 or 9 am.  Sometimes he sits on one leg like he is in the picture!  Sometimes he keeps his beak inside his feathers and sleeps (I think so!).  Looks very innocent!  We call him 'dummi' because he is the fattest among the crows who visit us!  He silently eats and leaves.  He doesn't come back.  We see him only the next morning!

I notice one crow which is a bit thin, starts doing kabaddi steps around the curd rice, hopping to the left and right, without letting the other crows near the curd rice! He is a good sportsman, very very light on his feet!

The small box is waiting for the sparrows to nest in!

I have seen a couple of sparrows in the front side of this complex near the gate.  We have got pigeons too which I don't like...the only bird I don't like.  They spoil the place with their excreta ...huh, I am using a polite word!  I asked my husband to keep a box here, in the balcony for the sparrows or any other small bird to nest inside.  It is more than three months now and I haven't seen anyone even peeping into the box! Husband is planning to put a 'tolet for sparrows only' board here soon!

Now, I will tell you the Best Entertainer for our family...the Rising Sun!  We see him rising among the clouds and trees, everyday, with our coffee cups in our hands, sitting in our balcony! I have got some 183 snaps of the sunrise scenes! One is here:




I told you in the beginning, this is a happy post!

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wordless Wednesday


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