Nostalgia has got the better of me today. I sit here in this room, looking out through the white blinds. The sky is grey, the ground is getting its colour back, after the sun took the snow away. The big wide road in front of my house, occasionaly is graced by a car or two. The houses across the road, all wear a glum look. A playground on one end of this canvas, looks empty, waiting to feel the touch of a child. The Christmas trees standing in a row, wonder what they are waiting for. Not a sight of a single person. The silence deafens me. This is the United States and its seventeen years since.

That place was Sampangiram Nagar or S R Nagar to help write the address. A multistoreyed building stood at the intersection of fourth main road and fifth cross. From the veranda of the second floor, a girl in her eighth grade looked out. Sitting on a metal folding chair. The road was lined with houses, with no breathing space between them. A breathing space would serve as an open toilet. There are people everywhere. Outside the houses, in the veranda, on the road. There are cows, and there are dogs, no different than the people on the road. Amidst this maze of people, people driving bikes, cars, autos, lorries, manuever so easily and find their way, with one finger glued to the horn. It was the sound of the world, and never once, deafened me. There was a constant array of people in the Kumar’s hotel opposite my house. The vegetable shop [grocery] next to Kumar’s hotel, owned by a Malayali, always displayed fresh vegetables. Next to it was a medical shop [a pharmacy]. 

At the intersection of the sixth cross and fourth main road, on one side was a stationery shop. A Shetty owned the shop, known to be a miser. Every pencil, pen, eraser, notebook, crayons, graph sheets, I used in my learning years, came from his shop. On the other side was a Fancy store.. yeah! wondering what a fancy store sells – everything thats fancy! Bangles, glitter, bindi [sticker placed on forehead for ornamental purposes], eyeliner, kajal, and what not. There were hooks from the ceiling and all these things dangled from the hook, giving the store a fancy look! This was the mini fancy store. Anything that was not available in this store, could be found in a bigger fancy store, three blocks down the road. There were three doctor clinics on this fourth main road. In the twelfth cross stood a hospital – Sindhi Hospital. The place where I uttered my first cry. A couple of blocks away, there was a temple, a chat corner, and the post office with the big red post box. 

The entire length of this fourth main road, would not be more than a mile and we walked to each of these needs of life.

My family spent about thirty years, five years before my birth, in this one bed one bath apartment [as anyone who had a taste of the US would call it]. About, six hundred square feet of living area. The place we called home. The place I still attribute to the word ‘home’.

Places have changed, people have changed, living area has grown by leaps and bounds, but I long for those days, where the mornings began with amma waking anand and me to get ready for school. While appa helped us get ready, she made horlicks in this big steel tumbler. There was breakfast too. The auto guy, came and honked downstairs at sharp 7.40 am. Amma announced ‘auto fellow has come’. After traveling for eight years or so, I learnt his name was Raju, he was always referred to as Automan. An hour before lunchtime, the lunch arrived in a basket and was kept at the regular drop off place, courtesy the Automan. The basket had a small towel, a three tier steel lunchcase, and a waterbottle. We picked it up at lunchtime and ate under a tree or in the classroom. We got home by 3.30pm and amma was ready with snacks or a second round of lunch. Or another round of Horlicks. After that we played with our only neighbors who lived on the third floor of the building. The eldest, one year older to me was nicknamed Babloo, the middle, was a girl, one year younger to me, nicknamed Baby, the youngest, one year younger to my brother was nicknamed Bobby. These are the only friends I have played with during my school years. After that amma called out to us, to start homework. After homework, I’d help amma in the kitchen to make dinner. Dinner was always chapathi [Indian flat bread made of whole wheat], curry, cucumber and onions. Yumm. We watched TV later for sometime.

I miss –
1, my mother’s horlicks everyday morning with the Times of India newspaper
2, fights with my brother, where finally amma called out ‘aaaaanaaand, iiindddduuuuuuuu’.. and were feather touched with the Sumeet mixie spatula, until one day, my smart brother trashed it.
3, infinte sessions of amma trying to teach me how to calculate marked price.
4, power outage hours, where we sat on the veranda and appa played ‘places’ with us. The game was one person said the name of a place, and the next person said the name of another place whose first letter was the last letter of the previous place. Later we sometimes, searched these places on the atlas.
5, the second show movies that amma and I went to, buying tickets in black sometimes 😉
6, how appa applied ointment on my knees and ankle when they hurt and I couldn’t sleep in the night
7, the snack that appa made sometimes with poha and sometimes with fried rice.. yumm!!
8, my cleaning sessions of the house, after anand made a mess out of it..
9, the look on amma’s face after I got back from an accident with my neighbors
10, the joy on my face when appa bought our first colour TV a fourteen inch nelco black diamond.
11, hugging amma and sleeping and her lullaby about omanakuttan govindan..
12, the photo sessions by appa, usually when we got a new dress. His umpteen corrections of pose, place your hand here, tilt your head this way, look here, look there.
13, shopping for a new dress before March 25th and October 1st.
14, samosas that appa brought on some evenings from Mangaram’s on Commercial street, Masala dosa from Kamat, Kaju Barfi from Arya Bhavan.
15, decorating a room for your own birthday with friends, blowing the candle, cutting the cake. The maximum you got for a gift was a card. And that was so precious.
The list is endless, coz the memories are endless. A song from the movie 3 idiots plays in my mind –
Give me some sunshine, give me some rain
Give me another chance, I wanna grow up once again.

11 thoughts on “Nostalgia

  1. Everything is maya, the whole life is a maya.
    A wonderfully expressed snippet from maya, which is sure to take most of the readers into their own tender years.
    It was nice visiting Maya's apartment, even though it was difficult to travel through those busy streets.


  2. Hey, is there any chance of getting the words for “omanakuttan govindan” ? This is the lullaby my dad used to sing for us and our kids and I wld love to teach this to my son.



  3. Hey, is there any chance of getting the words for “omanakuttan govindan” ? This is the lullaby my dad used to sing for us and our kids and I wld love to teach this to my son.



  4. ഓമനക്കുട്ടന്‍ ഗോവിന്ദന്‍ ബലരാമനെ കൂടെ കൂടാതെ
    കാമിനിമണിയമ്മ തന്‍ അംഗസീമനി ചെന്നു കേറിനാന്‍
    അമ്മയുമപ്പോള്‍ മാറണച്ചിട്ടങ്ങുമ്മ വെച്ച് കിടാവിനെ
    അമ്മിഞ്ഞാ കൊടുത്താനന്ദിപ്പിച്ചു ചിന്‍മയന്‍ അപ്പോഴോതിനാന്‍
    ഒപ്പത്തിലുള്ള കുട്ടികളൊരു മുപ്പത്തിരണ്ടുപേരുണ്ട്
    അപ്പിള്ളേരായ് വനത്തില്‍ മേളിപ്പാന്‍ ഇപ്പോള്‍ ഞാന്‍ അമ്മെ പോകട്ടേ

    അയ്യോ എന്നുണ്ണി പോകല്ലേ ഇപ്പോള്‍ തീയുപോലുള്ള വെയിലല്ലേ
    വെറുതെ എന്നമ്മേ തടയല്ലേ പോട്ടെ പരിചോടിന്നിടയ്ക്കുണ്ണുവാന്‍
    നറുനെയ്യ് കൂട്ടീട്ടുരുട്ടീട്ടും നല്ലോരുറതയിര്‍ കൂട്ടീട്ടുരുട്ടീട്ടും
    വറുത്തോരുപ്പേരി പതിച്ചിട്ടും ഈ രണ്ടുരുളയും എന്റെ മുരളീയും
    തരിക എന്നൊന്നങ്ങലട്ടി ചാഞ്ചാടി തരസാ കണ്ണന്‍ താന്‍ പുറപ്പെട്ടു (2 )

    അന്നേരമമ്മ എടുത്തു, കൊഞ്ചും നന്ദനന്‍ തന്നെ മടിയില്‍ വെച്ച്
    ഖിന്നത ലാളിച്ചു വേര്‍പെടുത്തു മിന്നും തലമുടി വേര്‍പെടുത്തു
    തൊട്ടു നെറുകയില്‍ നിര്‍ത്തി കെട്ടി, മിന്നും തലമുടി വേര്‍പെടുത്ത്
    തോര്‍ത്തു നെറുകയില്‍ നിര്‍ത്തി കെട്ടി കോര്‍ത്തൊരു പൂമാല ചുറ്റി കെട്ടി
    കണ്ണു മിന്നുന്നൊറ്റ പീലി കുത്തി
    കണ്ണന് ഗോപിയും പൊട്ടും കുത്തി
    മുത്തണിമാല കഴുത്തിലിട്ടു പൊന്നിന്‍ പുലി നഖമോതിരവും
    പിന്നെ പതിവൊറ്റ മോതിരവും
    മഞ്ജുവനമാലയോടണച്ച് കുഞ്ഞിക്കഴുത്തിലലങ്കരിച്ചു
    ഓമല്‍ കുറിക്കൂട്ടണിഞ്ഞു മെയ്യില്‍
    ഹേമം തരിവളയിട്ടു കയ്യില്‍
    മഞ്ഞപ്പട്ടാടയുടുത്തു മേലെ മഞ്ജുവായ്‌ കിങ്ങിണി ചേര്‍ത്തു ചാലെ
    ചെഞ്ചിലയെന്നു കിലുങ്ങും മട്ട്
    പൊന്‍ ചിലമ്പും കുഞ്ഞിക്കാലിലിട്ട്
    അഞ്ചാതുരുട്ടിയ ചോറും നല്‍കി
    കൊഞ്ചിപ്പൊന്നോടക്കുഴലും നല്‍കി
    കോടക്കാര്‍ വര്‍ണ്ണനെ ചേര്‍ത്തണച്ച്
    പാടിക്കൊണ്ടമ്മയും ചാഞ്ചാടിച്ചു
    മോടികളേവമലങ്കരിച്ചു ക്രീഡയ്ക്കു കൃഷ്ണനെ അങ്ങയച്ചു


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