Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mothers and mothers


As a child, there was a certain no-nonsense element to her growing-up years. In what was then called the outskirts of Pune City, in a very traditional , conservative locality....

At a time which really set the standards in what she hankered for, what she got and what she learned....

She remembers, in 4th grade, being totally impressed with buckram frocks (that kept things permanently flared), and what were called rock-and-roll shoes. While the former was acceded to by the elders in the form of a buckram slip you wore inside a skirt, there were fine skirmishes on the subject of the shoes.  Naughty Boy black shoes in school, keds for games,  sandals/chappals otherwise, and her lifestyle really didn't demand the rock-and-roll shoes, heels and stuff. She got them, when she was much older, in high school, but always looked on in awe seeing her 5th grade friends wearing them on school birthdays .

Pune Camp was a different place in those days, with a full Anglo-Indian/Parsi/military ethos, folks in suits and frocks, high heels clicking, air kissing and stuff, Jim Reeves singing in the background, and people talking of "jam sessions",  and her biggest mortification was when she once ended up going there with her mother, wearing a pale green and black zari  bordered parkar polka and ran into one of her classmates called Darius Cooper walking with his Mom. While she , dying of embarrassment, tried to hide and look elsewhere, Darius's mother simply loved the parkar polka, and had a discussion about it with her Mom.  A small learning about how you may be simply making a noise about something unimportant to other folks, so chill!

For a while, she started behaving like the fashionable folks in her class. There were these strange things that were followed, like not fully eating or drinking whatever was on your plate/glass. And so we used to think we were being extra modern when we left a centimetre  of colas and fruit juices to waste in the glass, and remnants of food on our plates, with a fork placed just so. Polishing up your plate was infra-dig and not done. You also didn't turn the glass upside down, swallow the drink till the last molecule, and then make air-swallowing noises.

This worked, till her mother noticed it one day, and declared in no uncertain terms, that nothing, but nothing on the plate was to be wasted, and same held for whatever you drank. At home, you dare not turn up noses at food, you ate whatever was served initially on your plate, and seconds were your choice. But the end result had to be a clean plate . (Sometimes , we even looked at our image reflected in it :-)....)

In her childhood, the recommended  movies were either mythologicals, or something like "Tenzing Conquers Everest"; the Indian News Review before a movie was never to be missed in those non-TV days; you saw umpteen shots of Nehru cutting a ribbon to inaugurate something, shots of molten steel flowing in some factory,  a bunch of worthies walking in a shop floor both hands clasped behind , as was the approved officially favored style, and for a long time she would think that big hockey games (that were shown there) were played with lilting fast background music.

 In all this strict lifestyle, the parents however, encouraged hobbies in elocution, writing, music and the arts and sports.  Sometimes in the face of disapproving smirks from folks .

By and by, she slogged a lot and she sometimes succeeded. But she learnt, as they say, to treat ecstatic wins and depressing losses with the same equanimity. She never went overboard, and hissing a loud "yes" and pumping of her  hands did not happen. She simply got on with what she had to do.  There was, really,  no lottery mentality in her life.

She studied and worked as an adult and  had the same philosophy. Sometimes she succeeded and sometimes she didn't, despite the slog. She also learned , that there were different rules for different people at work. But so firmly was the work ethos dinned into her head, that it was clear that she worked to her own ethical and work standards, within the rules.

Funny situations like  someone who did not do any work, being favored, occurred. She explained it to herself, saying, she worked at stuff that was evaluated and subject to acceptance levels. Those who didn't do any work, had nothing to be evaluated, and hence by default, people simply overlooked that part of the evaluation form !  Whether it was work, sports, or even catching a bus , a decent dedicated slog was always her first difficult step, and she would then reach some place from where she could see the top in the distance.

And so, today,  she is surprised , that in her old age, when there is nothing of work left to evaluate, and no new opinions to be formed, she is suddenly tasting , an enjoyable  success of sorts.  A childhood hobby of writing was brought out of storage and dusted clean. The technology is different, there is no one to draw a red line through words, and glare at her. She blogs and writes poems. Sometimes she also thinks she is an artist.  And she doesn't care who laughs and /or passes snide comments.  The younger working years and her childhood,  have toughened her.

Strangely, there is now, what can be called, a lottery element in her life. Though nothing  ever, like scratching cards in malls, all expenses paid holiday trips,  winning 15 gms gold or maybe even a car......:-)

 She tends to win prizes for what she writes. She blogs and she has many virtual friends.

It started with writing a  tribute post on a retired cricketer and winning his coffee-table book as a prize.

Then a series of writing  competitions based on specific subjects  related to Mothers, Fathers, Friends , Country etc etc , where she won gift vouchers and painstakingly made, one at a time,  a set of 6 personalized coffee mugs depicting a recent family trip.

Then there were some Facebook competitions where you captioned pictures and they had daily prizes in the form of hefty gift vouchers.  She won one !

A travel portal had a Haiko tweeting competition, and her practice at writing instant poetry helped. She won three times.They sent her a camera bag, a 16GB SDS  data card, and an electric kettle !

The same portal then had a poem constructing competition, where , given some previous line, you completed poem lines, one a day, and they selected daily winners.  She won once and was the proud owner of a journal and a Schaeffers  pen.

In between A Women's Web portal held a few competitions. She won twice, and was presented with gift vouchers of amazing amounts and mugs to commemorate that!

Recently, she was one of the 5 main winners of a sunglasses company blog post competition organised by the same folks who gave her her first win, the Cricket book.    A pair of amazing Rayban Aviators came in the mail.

And very recently, she participated in a Family Memories Blog Competition,  and was lucky again to be declared the winner, the prize being a Flipkart Voucher of , what she actually considers, an obscene amount.

It isn't a surprise that every time something has to be spent online to use an earned voucher, the daughter desperately needs something, and has been looking for it.

Naturally, the 16 GB SDS card doesn't work on her old ancient camera, but nicely works on her daughter's new  DSLR. The camera bag holds the daughter's old camera, batteries, and stuff from her pre DSLR days. The daughter  must use the Schaeffers pen for an official workshop she is attending as part of her job, and various kinds of Green tea have been imbibed in the assorted personalized mugs.  Then, of course,  her daughter's 346 friends on Facebook have recently found out that she always wanted to get Rayban Aviator sunglasses, and guess what, here they are !  

Like she says,  there  now appears to be a lottery element in  her life.  And looks like, also, in her daughter's life.....

And so she looks back at her life, and her childhood with great nostalgia,  and thinks about those gone before and now no more, who encouraged her in her hobbies in her younger days and also taught her to ensure that her feet were always touching the Terra Firma, particularly when the mind tended to soar.......

She also thinks they are watching, and what's more, they think that grandchildren can do wrong......

 She looks up, and thanks them .

She should have actually done that long ago.

 But Mothers Day is happening, and it seems to be a good idea to do that now !    

22 comments:

  1. Wishing you a very beautiful, wonderful Happy Mother's Day! Thank you for all you share and all you do!

    Sylvia

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    1. Sylvia, Thank you ! Hope you too have a wonderful Mother's Day !

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  2. You are an inspiration to many and a very happy mother's day to you!

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    1. Sharmila, Thank you for the kind words, and hope you too have a great Mother's Day ! Hope to see you on the 27th ...

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  3. Suranga, there is no escaping the meaning when you are writing. Your diction hammers the point home mercilessly. That was a beautifully written autobiography that vividly summoned visions of the times you talked of. I was riveted till the end and was so engrossed that I didn't realize it was actually a tribute to your mother. Happy Mother's Day!

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    1. USP, sometimes old age makes you hammer points home mercilessly :-)) But one does look back gratefully for what one has had, yet one wonders how different things are today. That's why there are grandparents. You look at them and your kids .They help you understand how time flows ....Thank you!

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  4. Awwww! thats so sweetly written...your writings are enjoyed by all of us na..so thanks for writing :)

    Happy Mothers day!! and yay to your Mom for playing a wonderful role in making you what you are


    She tends to win prizes for what she writes. - This is so true!! you win every competition dont you :) well thats because you write SO well

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    1. R's Mom, Thank you for the nice comment and Happy Mother's day to you too ! I think all our respective Mom's have helped us become what we are today. Do convey my Mother's Day wishes to your Mom too !

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  5. At one go,I read many of your posts now. Congrats , mama, you are indeed a winning Blogger. Just like this posts gives a complete picture about you, a successful,one of the most inspiring bloggers I came across, will look forward to be a regular visitor here.
    cheers,Happy Mothers day!

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  6. Mam.. a very happy mothers day .. and not jsut tpoday but every day .. Have a great day .. and It was so nice to hear about the role played by your mum ...

    I think we all are who we are becaue of a lot of people and a mothers role is the biggest one in that ..

    Bikram's

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    1. Bikram, Thank you , and I so agree with you .....

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  7. aww such a nice post, such a nice way to start my work week! Hope you had a loevly Mother's Day

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  8. Suranga! Reading this post was like seeing a ghostly hand typing words from out of my memories and mind! Your acute observation and mercilessly honest and funny introspection makes one think , "Oh! Why didn't I think of it!" or "Hey, I wanted to say that!" :)

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    1. Shruti, Thank you for the nice comment! Isn't it amazing that so many of us have such similar memories ! :-))

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  9. This is the best post I have read for Mothers' day!! Simply loved it!!!

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  10. That brought to life all the times of my own childhood, when a firm look was all that was needed to make us comply with the simple rules of etiquette and life in general. We did have great role models too and I sure hope we are able to emulate even a little of that panache. You are the rockstar of blogworld Suranga and may you win many more prizes and friends with your writing. And here is a dandavat pranam to the mother who raised you. :)

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    1. Zephyr, thank you for the lovely comment, and I will join you in that dandavat pranaam too !

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  11. Lovely post Surangaji! Could picture all that you've written here..
    The lottery element is well deserved I believe :) Wishing that the winning steark continues and we get to read such lovely tales from you!!

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