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 !