Sunday, March 23, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Here, in the new life, we were always in touch with a cosmopolitan set of people from all walks of life – not only from different parts of India, but from different parts of other nations, too. Our life also became busy with luncheon gatherings, tea and dinner parties.
We had been in Trichy, Chingleput and Saidapet for a period of two years where Babuji underwent administrative training. Life in these places was also different from the Delhi life, but it was nothing like life in this new place.
Talking of dinner parties, I have to tell you about our first get-together. On the very day Babuji took charge of his post, we were invited to a sit-down dinner hosted by the Rotary Club.
‘SIT –DOWN’ dinner! I was aghast!!
I was full of fear and apprehension. It was the first of its kind we were invited to. Though I knew how to use cutlery in an off-hand manner, at a sit-down dinner one had to use the correct spoon, fork and knife for each course. And I was very ignorant of these things.
To add to my confusion, Babuji was seated at another table, while I was seated at the centre table, at the head of which sat the Chief Commissioner – the head of the state. Thank God I did not show my fear or nervousness on my face. As soon as we were seated, I started a conversation with the lady sitting next to me. When the food started coming, one after another (and it was a five-course dinner), I waited till the lady next to me picked up her spoon and fork. I followed her example and the day was saved for me – the ordeal over.
Later in life, more than three decades after, Gowri and Mohan, with Parvati, took me out to lunch at a famous restaurant. I was amazed at the way Parvati, a three year old kid, handled the food with her knife, fork and spoon so deftly. Thanks to the tea garden culture where she was growing up.
Monday, March 10, 2008
LIFE IN PONDICHERRY - MOVING IN
Pondicherry, or Puthucherry , as it is known today is very different from what it was some fifty years ago. I last went to Pondicherry with Gowri, Mohan and Raja in 2002.
Gowri was keen to see the place of her birth. She was born there and we left Pondicherry when she was not even six months old.
Babuji was on deputation there from June 1957 to November 1963. We were there during the de facto, or de jure, period, and when the French influence was very strong still.
At the time, the town was divided into two parts by a canal that ran across it from about a kilometre west of the sea. The east side was known as the white town where the Head of the State - the Chief Commissioner, and other top officials lived and worked. The Cercle de Pondicherry, St. Joseph de Cluny High School and the Medical College were also housed there.
A major part was occupied by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its inmates, its shops and its school.
The west side of the canal was called the Black Town where the local people lived, and where the markets and shops were situated. Most of the local people were Creoles who worked for the French Government, and they spoke French as well as any Frenchman. The French influence was very much in evidence.
This was how we saw the place when we went there. The sea and the beach, though it was an apology of a beach, captivated me, particularly the sea. From our terrace the sea, with the ships moving far away on the horizon and the deep blue green waters, looked like a huge picture post card.
We were given a bungalow in Rue de Rangapillai, which housed the Development office, of which Babuji was posted as Secretary. Our living quarters were on the first floor. It was a really big house built by the French in real colonial style. The dining-cum-living room was so big it could have housed a large flat of today.
The day we moved in, one of the officials working in the department advised us to keep one of the north side doors on this big room closed, and never to open it at any time. The reason given was that previous occupants had felt that this doorway was haunted, and many apparitions had been seen there by many.
Babuji’s immediate reaction to that was to ask me to have my ‘pooja’ set up by that doorway and to never ever keep that door closed, not even at night. We were in that house for more than six years and we never saw any ghosts or apparitions. Rather, we had a happy and busy life there.
More to follow. . .
You can read this post in my new blog :http://lifeinpondicherry.blogspot.com/
Labels: Moving in
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Sunday, March 02, 2008
A TIME FOR EVERYTHING
“What what thing which which tiyithiley happeno, that that thing that that tiyithiley happeney happen.”
This was one of Babuji’s favourite sayings. And it has been proved right so many times. Recently too it was proved right, not once, but twice in a three month period. Though we lived in New Delhi for more than 40 years, Babuji and I had never visited Agra to ‘see’ the Taj Mahal. Every time my son Bala came home from the U S he was keen and ready to take us to Agra. But Babuji always had a ready-made reply that at that period of the year either it was too cold or too hot. So we never made that trip. And for the last twenty years, no mention of this was made by anybody in the family.
Last year my children and grandchildren came together to celebrate my 80th birthday. Raja felt that my ‘not seeing the Taj Mahal' should also be rectified.
He arranged for a one day trip to Agra for the whole family which was enjoyed by one and all, including my three year old great granddaughter.
So it was fated that I was to see the Taj Mahal without Babuji.
We all know there is the annual Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana conducted in January–February. Though I never voiced my wish to anyone I always felt that I was not lucky enough to go to Thiruvaiyaru during the Aradhana. Recently this was proved wrong.
Last fortnight Raja and I went on a temple tour to Thanjavur, Thiruvaiyaru and Kumbakonam. We reached Thiruvaiyaru at an auspicious time when at the Samadhi of Sri Thyagaraja Swamigal, abhishekham, alankaram, and Deepa aradhanai was taking place. We were the only two devotees there. We had a good darisanam. It seemed as though it was specially ordered for us. I was entirely thrilled.
To add to my joy and fulfilment, there was a violin concert going on too, with full accompaniments. That made it perfect. Then the violinist started to play the pancharatna kriti in Sri Ragam - what more could one ask for!
Again I was reminded of Babuji’s saying “What what tiyithiley ……”