Monday, January 3, 2011

For Tvisha – Age 13, 1979

Dear Tvisha,

1979 was a year that seemed to go by very fast.

Since thaatha was provided with a car the previous year, I wanted to learn how to drive as soon as possible. I learnt to drive a car when I was 12, and would drive around the apartment building first going back and forth, and left and right in the tight corners around the building, navigating around other parked cars. That is how I honed my driving skills that made me very confident on the main streets in Bombay.

What was very popular around that time was the only open air theater in Bombay, another perk we could enjoy thanks to the car at our disposal. I went to see so many movies, experiencing this unique way of watching movies along with Krish, thaatha, Ghosalkar, our friends, and also the resident mosquitoes from the nearby bird sanctuary :-). The food used to be great, and I can still remember the flavor of the best popcorn I have had over there.

Thaatha’s brother moved to the city of Madras (now Chennai), located in the South of India. I don’t know the exact reasons for it. He also took mammai (my grandma) along with him, and again thaatha, Krish and I were all alone. Thus began a new phase of life, with three men trying to take care of their job and school, and housework as well. Fun!

Thaatha used to tour a lot then. So our apartment was like a den when thaatha wasn’t around, with our friends from the building coming over, going out for movies, playing cards and carrom at home, studying for exams as a group, and generally hanging out.

As far as food was concerned we used to get by eating muffins and bananas most of the times for dinner. Thaatha very soon got tired of this and started preparing food at home in his own unique style – prepared very quickly, blandest food of them all, but very tasty since all you got was the natural taste of the pulses and vegetables :-).

Of course once he was done cooking, I would take over, set aside some food for him, and then completely change the makeup of the food, making it suitable to Krish’s and my palettes. That is where my curiosity to experiment with food and modifying began.

The one thing that could be looked at as if I was taking charge of my life was when we renewed celebrations of Lord Ganesha in our apartment building. If you remember we used to celebrate this occasion in a really big way. But as people started moving away from Sion on to other parts of Bombay where they could find bigger apartments for a cheaper price, there weren’t many elders who were willing to take responsibility of hosting this event in the building.

I thought about it and said to myself, why shouldn’t we have this celebration in our building, it is not difficult to do this. So, with the help of another elder friend Kumar who was thrilled with my enthusiasm, we went and purchased a clay idol and all the stuff for decorations on the day of the festival. The building came alive, even if it was only for the first few days, and then on the final day of immersion. I tried my best to go seek out and announce the timing of the poojas to the folks in the building who wanted to participate. It was a decent success at best, but I was very proud of what I did at this age.


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