Monday, August 3, 2015

From a Grandmother to her little one.....

My darling Namya, when you read this, you may have grown to a teenager. wondering why Ammamma is writing to you. Well, your generation may not be aware of what was life like, for a middle class family in the 1950s to 70s. I just felt, you may like to get an idea of what our family was  like, what all were our food habits or what our days were like. Can you imagine about a life sans television, computer or even radio? Can you imagine a life without a car ? May be therefore what I am going to pen down, would read to you like a fairy tale or fiction.

The other day, I was telling your Raghumamu  some anecdotes of our times, and he was keen to get more and more details about those days. It was then it dawned on me, that even your Amma and Maamu don't know much about those days, and for you all that would be like a story.
A long introduction ……you think?   All right, here goes the story of my life from late fifties to early seventies.


Namya, I was born in 1952, in a village Kondiparamba, in Perintalmanna , of the present Malapuram district in Kerala.. My mother belonged to Perintalmanna and my father hailed from Kottakkal, which is famous as a centre of Ayurveda, early indian medical science. At the time of my birth, my mother was only 18!!! And my father31!!! Surprised? Wellthat was what it was those days.  Soon after my birth, my father was able to get a job in indian airlines, Delhi. Prior to that he was working in some cooperative society in a place called Cheroopa, near Kozhikode in Kerala.

             It was in 1955 that my mother and we two siblings came to Delhi. It took us 4 days to reach Delhi from Kerala by train. Difficult for you to believe, I know.Even now the scene at the railway station is vivid in my memory. Nothing like it is today, no rush, no  big crowd, very few trains and as we alighted from the train, the porter came and took our baggage to the auto stand. There was no bargaining and my father gave him what he asked, and I am sure it was nominal .People those days were more honest and much humane in their interactions.

             I clearly remember our first abode in Delhi. It was a 2 room apartment.actually  Government quarters. which we shared with one Mr Bhat in Sarojini Nagar, known as Main Vinay Nagar those days.The address was  C 120. There was no inhibition those days, sharing a house with totally new peoplethere was no northsouth difference or rivalry. There was total unity and understanding between the two families. I remember, I made my first friend in Delhi in that house. She was Leela and about a year or two elder to me.  We used to play all day, were fed by the same mothermine or hers..and even bathed and dressed by one of the mothers.

           After about a year we moved from there to another house, again a shared accommodation. That was to B616, again in Sarojini Nagar.I remember it was just opposite the police station, and my mother used to threaten to call the police if I was up to some mischief or did not obey herThus started my fear of the police, whom I could never look up as our protectors!

              While staying in Sarojini Nagar, we enjoyed our evenings going around the market or enjoying swings and rides in the childrens park. During the summers we were treated to cool rose scented sugar cane cubes. I know you love them which used to be a rare thing in the markets when you were small, and now we hardly see them.

               We were like nomads going from one abode to the other , mainly in the vicinity of Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Lakshmi bai nagar, RK Puram and other civil areas of south Delhi. Those days there were very few private areas and private residential sectors, but life in those government quarters had its own charm. we enjoyed a special bond with our neighbours and peer groups. It was like all of us were often being fed at one house or taken for a treat of ice cream( which costed 8 annas or half a rupee for a big cup or chocobar) by one or two of the mothers. I remember the places we stayed in sarojini nagar, Netaji nagar and Rama Krishna puram vividly and the names of all the friends I made there. Of all the places, I cherish the memories of our days in EPT 107 a post and telegraph colony in Sarojini nagar, and 1583 Netaji Nagar near my college. Both these places I was able to make great friends and family relations which I hold close to my heart to this day

            Vacation was the best time, when we used to play the whole day. Going for morning walk was a big enjoyment, those of us staying in the ground floor houses would spread cots( known as chaarpais, and made of wooden legs , frame and choir ropes) outside the house. Those who stayed in the first floor would sleep on cots spread on the terrace. You know what, the terraces were connected,and we felt secure and not scared of intruders, as we had all friendly neighbours around. Thus, in the mornings, whoever woke up first would wake up the rest of us and we would go in group of 8 to 10 children for walk and to play in the park. we used to return by 9 or so, and after our bath and morning rituals would assemble at one of the houses, and indulge in different indoor games, reading or simply gossiping. There were no televisions those days, so we connected to our friends and cousins beautifully. We also read a lot and once or twice during the vacation we would be taken for a picnic to the zoo or for a movie. Another ritual we followed was, in the forenoon, a group of us would go to the local baker and get cookies made. We used to take sugar, milk, vegetable oil  and wheat flour and come back loaded with big tins or canisters of cookies. Such wonderful cookies you can't get now. no adulteration, no artificial flavour wow Namya,,, that was heaven!

 Then of course we used to go the the tandoor wala or the man who used clay ovens to make rotis, known as tandoori rotis. Our mothers would knead the dough and give to us, we would go to the person with clay oven we called tandoor waley uncleji..There our dough would be made into rotis, we would also buy a full pot of his special dal sometimes, and with some sliced onions to accompany, we enjoyed  sumptuous dinner of the special dal and rotis. You have to taste it to know its worth, as I have no words to explain the heavenly taste. The Murthal daal or dal makhani we get now and the rotis we get in the restaurants just cant be compared and do not come any where near  the daal and roti we had those days from the neighbourhood tandoor. 

Guess what my love, we had no maggi or burger or the fast foods you get now, to curb our frequent hunger pangs. We however had lots of fresh fruits like blue berries, guavas, and mangoes in almost all houses and then of course we made quick snacks on our own, like panjeeri..a sweet from wheat flour sugar and a dash of clarified butter, in a jiffy. Life was much simpler and smoother those days my dear. The air was not polluted, water we got was pure, and the fruits and vegetables totally much so that we didn't fear eating from the local sweet shop or snacks corner..which of course was not a regular affair, but an occasional treat. Well..those were the days... We never felt the need to travel just with the family in a car, for us going in public transport was true enjoyment of travelling. Entertainment was, to play indoor games in the hot after noons and park games till late evening, or going for watching movies or circuses with lots of friends, or even visiting places like monuments or zoo. Newspapers  gave us all the news we had to know, as reading newspapers was a regular morning ritual for us at home and also in school morning assemblies.

In school too we never faced any bullying or problems, but enjoyed our time there. Learning was not a task. I enjoyed school and college and studies so much that till my late 50's I found learning  a thrill.Regular studies, and attention in class was a common thing and tuitions after school hours was not anyone took pride in. I don't remember going for any special coaching to prepare for any examination.

It was in 1968 that I crossed from school to college life. College , friends and teachers constituted a beautiful world for us . Our generation had no fear of going out to local markets alone, we had no fear of travelling in local transport from university even late evening  or 8-O clock at night. Totally secure we girls felt. Compared to what insecurity and fear of molestation or assault the youngsters face now, we were very secure and socially well cared for.Till 1975 I spent beautiful years learning, enjoying and empowering myself. Believe me my love, learning was an enjoyment and not at all a strain.

The two plus decades of life in a middle class family in Delhi  and that too in a government residential area was something I wouldn't have traded for life in today's metropolis , today's Delhi/NCR. How I wish my darling Namya and her friends too would have  such a carefree socially secure and enjoyable years of school and college life!!!


soulsearchingdays said...

Vow!! Teacher, I am sure Namya is going to read this and love it. But I am loving it sooo much , I did not know you had a sarojini Nagar Connection, My God, my father was a government officer and from my 5th std. in school to till my marriage I have lived in Sarojini Nagar, RC quarters adjacent to the police station , it is unbelievable that you have also lived in all those areas where I also used to roam around as a child, as a teenager and as a college goer. The quarter no. that you mentioned which was right across police station is where my kunjamma used to live , quarter no. B532. It is such a pleasure to know about the Delhi of 1970's beautiful.. looking forward to more...thank you so much for sharing....
lots of love and respect
take care

chandrika kumar said...

Aww....Rekha dear, thanks a ton. Yes, I treasure the memories of those days, and am keen to share the cherished memories with my darling Namya. I hope I will be able to pen down more and thus let her know about life in a different perspective than she is used to.

V V Damodaran said...

Well said, well written and highly readable.Perhaps, you may like to post this in FB too as it will be useful to your students and their children and why not, to your friends also. Please continue your writing.

chandrika kumar said...

Thank you very much for visiting my page and commenting on my post. I have no words to express how much I value this. Coming from a literary genius it matters a lot. Shall be grateful if u would care to read the rest and opine. Thank u again