08 December, 2012

Blast from the Past : Grandmas and James Bonds




This picture, for me, is indeed a “blast from the past”.  Cameras then, used to be quite a rarity and my periappa (father’s elder brother) used to have a black and white camera.  This was one such picture taken in the compounds of Gopal Building (where all of us in this picture spent our childhood and some in this picture are still in Gopal Building).  I can’t really remember if we had dressed up for this picture or whether we just happened to be downstairs when my Periappa snapped up this shot.

This picture did bring back a lot of childhood memories, though.   I used to be found more at Sudha and Raja’s house (they’re in the picture too J) than at my own house.  Can’t quite remember if it was a lack of sibling company at my place that used to constantly drive me over to theirs or whether it was the fact that there was a lot more freedom at their place than at mine :-).

Gopal building, was, for all purposes hitherto known to man, a huge family – fights, feuds and loving relationships all thrown into one big cauldron and that cauldron was Gopal Building.  There were other people on the fringes and the periphery that made Gopal Building the lively, vivacious, animated and rather dynamic entity that it was, come to think of it.  There was a spirit to the building, a sparkling streak that ran as a common thread through all the families living there.

When I look at the compound on which this picture was taken, the memories that instantly spring to my mind are the plants that we used to have in this compound – the flowering plants and the paatis (grandmothers) whom I consider the James Bonds of yonderyears.

Paatis (grandmas) used to fight over flowers from the plants in the compound – the same compound in which this picture was taken.  They would actually trace the lineage of the plants – this plant was planted by my great grandmother and her  uncle and so on and so forth – and this would go on, the voices involved getting higher in pitch and more colourful in language.  The culprit in question would be a lone hibiscus bud right at the top of the plant which none of the paatis could have reached, even in the wildest of their dreams.  I’m sure that bud would have looked on with much amusement at the paatis squabbling over it and it would have had a huge smile on its face even when it was being plucked off the plant.  The paatis would be out prowling for flowers with their hallmark plastic bags in their hands.  Come to think of it, they were pretty much like Daniel Craig in the James Bond movies nowadays.  Lunging behind plants at the sight of another paati, peeping out surreptiously to see if the coast was clear to loot some more flowers, surefooted quick sprinting from one plant to another, they would have put James Bond to shame on any given day.  Only difference being that they held plastic bags filled with flowers in their hands instead of Bond’s preferred medium – a Walther PPK.  Looking back, I can only say “ thank the Lord for small mercies”.

I can imagine what the paaties would have done with Walthers in their hands.  All of them in their long nine yard saris, tucked in at say twenty odd places, barefoot, their hair tied into a small kondai (ball) which would usually hang loose somewhere  a bit down the shoulders – quite a sight they would have made.  Imagine them, in the eye of your mind, twirling and crouching  with their little plastic bags like James Bond with his Walther PPK - their eight yard saris twirling, a mass of cloth and their little kondais flying back and forth like it had a life of its own and then you come face to face with the paatis' eyes, determined and steely with just one goal in mind - to get to those flowers before the other paatis did - pretty much like James Bond trying to get to a spy list before a spy from some other country got his/her hands on it.  

All in all, it made for a very eventful childhood -  in the sense that there were always events or happenings that kept everybody on their toes.  The underlying currents always eddied around and made sure things never quite quietened down.  All in all, it was indeed a colourful, animated medley of people all around the building – each one with their own distinct personality traits that made up this huge lively cauldron that was Gopal Building. 

Right now, as I drum up this post, I am flooded – quite literally and figuratively flooded with nostalgia.  Memories are pouring back in, little snippets of conversation are making their presence felt inside my mind, little snapshots of memory (not the photo kind) are vividly dancing in front of my eyes.  All in all, it is a very warmhearted feeling, a feeling that one gets when one holds onto the little blanket from childhood, with all the little smells and aromas of comfort and warm memories steeped and bundled into it and all I want to do is to curl into that blanket and let the memories take over.

7 voice(s) said so:

Aparna said...

That really fit the theme, loved the pic as well as the picture in words that you have woven so well :).

Uma said...

wow..you have written this so well..i could vividly imagine the paatis coming out for a quick loot of flowers before the others go it :-)))
lovely pic...

Swati Raman Garg said...

patties fighting over flowers.. i totally get it :D

Cuckoo said...

Ha ha ha! Totally relate to it.

But 8 yards sari? 9 yards, no?

Jandy said...

interesting post and a really cute pic

AJ said...

I could almost picture it all happening, loved it!

Gauri said...

@ All : Thank you :-). Those were hilarious memories to delve into :-).

@ Cuckoo - Yep. 9 yards. I stand corrected :-).