Monday, 30 April 2018

May Be!

The picture above sums up my end of April.  Sick(say the neem leaves), bored out of my wits(says the book which is beyond my league, more suited to literary choices of my husband) and braving the famous scorching summer of North(says the A.C. remote). What the coconut says is an entirely different twist though. The book title and the words 'survival, resilience, redemption ' below the title are just what I need to be reminded right now to keep going.
You might be wondering about this plaintive tone which I rarely have, especially here. You have always heard colourful crafty stories and seen flowery landscapes here on my blog . But sometimes dear people, one cannot help ranting when difficulty level keeps increasing. Though the gardens are still beautiful, the occasional thorns have to be weeded out before one can enjoy the beauty like before once again.

It seems like ages ago when the weather was good, the landscape was picturesque,  and one had the time and inclination to appreciate it all. But calendars change and so do times. Difficulties occur, problems happen, life happens! When a day becomes unbearable, one just wants it to end and pins their hopes on the next day! So here's hope that it may be beautiful again tomorrow.. let's hope and pray for a great May..the month of possibilities.. when all that the heart desires just may be!

Take good care people. Have a great new month ahead.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Love From Dhaka



I have a penchant for stories but telling a story is not my cup of tea. Storytelling is a great art and anyone who can tell an engaging story earns my deep respect instantly. My grandmother is an excellent storyteller and she did a good job back when I was interested in bedtime stories. She can describe real life events in such a manner that they sound like fantasy stories. I still love stories, but now I would rather read them than hear from someone.
This notion changed when I heard a great story on last year’s battle honour day of my husband’s unit. Though it is a true incident, I would like to call it a story, because the way it was told, it has risen to the status of a story. An incident is what a newspaper reports while a story is a work of art. Some stories stay with us forever. This is one of them, always bringing back lively images of that evening to my mind.
On the eve of battle honour Day*, while all the unit ladies were eagerly waiting for the veterans to arrive in the unit’s mess, we shared anecdotes of shopping and vacations. As we were deep into conversation, someone announced the arrival of a veteran couple and soon we were queued up to meet Retd. Col. and Mrs. Kundu. The elderly couple arrived holding hands and smiling. They met everyone warmly and before we realized, the gathering separated into two groups. All the officers were huddled together around Col. Kundu while all the ladies had pulled their seats close to Mrs. Kundu, surrounding her, curious, anxious and yet keeping quiet out of sheer respect. Mrs. Kundu with her big red bindi and warm smile, instantly became our center of attraction. After initial round of introductions and other formal exchanges, our first lady asked Mrs. Kundu to share her ‘telegram wali’ story and the way Mrs. Kundu pulled her shoulders together and nodded, reminded me of my grandmother’s story sessions where she used to sit in the middle on a cot and three –four of us children surrounded her, staring at her face in admiration and wonder.
Then Mrs. Kundu started telling the story.
In 1971, when the Indo-Pak war started, Savitri and her newborn daughter stayed with Savitri’s parents in a Rajasthan village, while her husband, a young army officer, left for east Pakistan front.
Savitri spent all her waking hours in wondering and waiting. Wondering what the coming months brought for her and waiting for her husband to arrive, any news to arrive... but you see, in those days news travelled slowly, letters took months to arrive and telegrams, which were the fastest mode of information often carried bad news, and their arrival was a harbinger of fear and death. So no one really looked forward to a telegram.
Her only hope was the radio, and being the village Sarpanch’s daughter, she was rich enough to afford her personal radio. But instead of giving her any relief, the news jangled her nerves even more. Finally she gave up listening to news on radio and tried to focus on her tiny daughter who needed her constant attention. But she was unaware of the real drama unfolding behind her back.
It all started when her father received a telegram.
The telegram was addressed to Savitri, but it was delivered to Sarpanch ji, for that was the way in those days. The village postman dared not look into his eyes and quietly kept the folded slip on his chauki with shaking hands. He also knew well what that telegram could mean for Savitri bitiya.
With the arrival of the telegram, every activity stopped in and around the house. Sarpanch ji could not gather enough courage to open it, let alone reading it. He knew too well that a telegram in times of war could only mean one thing. And he was not ready to accept or acknowledge it. Sarpanch ji, his wife, his servants, villagers, everybody was under a pall of gloom these days. Everyone wondered how would they break the news to Savitri.
Soon the news of the telegram spread like wildfire and people from other villages started visiting Sarpanch ji. Nobody discussed this matter. All they did was sit quietly for some time, shaking their heads to express their sadness at such terrible fate. There was no end to the sorrows of Sarpanch ji. Whenever he saw Savitri’s face or heard the cooing of her daughter, his heart skipped a beat. He felt as if his heart was a wild raven, fluttering its wings and hitting with its beak from inside, hurting him immensely. The old man was drowned into worries of Savitri and her daughter’s future.
It was almost a week now since the telegram arrived, the war was over and he worried that soon Savitri would know. What will happen then?
However, Savitri had not failed to notice the difference in her parents’ demeanour. She also observed that a lot more people were visiting nowadays. She asked her mother first and when she could not get a satisfactory response, she confronted her father who was sitting with a couple of village men.
Beti, I have received a telegram,’ he replied when he could not bear it anymore.
‘And...?’ asked Savitri, arching one eyebrow.
Sarpanch ji held his head in both his hands and sat down on his chauki. Tears of grief and helplessness rolled down his cheeks. The village men were astonished at Savitri’s innocence, ‘poor girl, she doesn’t know the meaning of a telegram.’
‘Where is the telegram?’ she demanded, ’what does it say?’
‘I don’t know bitiya. I haven’t read it!’ he took out a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. Signs of the past week’s struggle were plainly evident on the telegram.
Breathing heavily, Savitri held out her hand and took the telegram. With a heart thumping loudly, she opened it and read. The villagers were impressed, ‘bitiya knows angrezi.’
 A soft smile broke out on Savitri’s face which soon turned into an ear to ear grin. ‘Tch, tch. She has gone crazy with grief,’ one of the villagers whispered and the other approved.
‘What happened Savitri?’ asked her father, bewildered at her reaction.
‘All is well Babuji. He has reached Dhaka and sends his...um...best wishes,’ she carefully rephrased the three words written in the telegram to suit the old man’s senses. She ran to her room clutching the telegram before anyone could notice that she was blushing.
The telegram was composed super-economically, with three words announcing love, well being and victory. All it said was LOVE FROM DHAKA.
I am glad I didn’t read this story somewhere but had the privilege to hear it being told by the heroine of the story Mrs. Savitri Kundu herself.
--------------------------------------------------------------


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

मीठी बेरियां, मीठी यादें

Greetings from the lazy woman and her peeps. We all are enjoying sunny February days, with a variety of fruit trees and a few blossoms in a yard the size of a farm. The blossoms are actually very  few and what you are seeing above is one slightly better corner, photographed at a tricky angle to appear somewhat like a blooming garden. My parents are here for a few months and I am getting the best kind of pampering and 'Ma ke haath ka khaana' (mom's food) after so many years. Not only that, my mother and I try to stay healthy by walking within the compound and doing a few breathing exercises.
During one such walk, we went to one far end of the yard where wild plum (ber) shrubs grow. I squealed with delight at finding the ripening wild fruits, instantly remembering my school days. My school was in an Air Force Station, surrounded with forested area. Outside the school gate, there was a small clear area where we used to wait after school for our school rickshaw or bus to pick us up. Some of the adventurous kids would utilize this waiting time by finding these 'ber' shrubs which were all around in abundance, and would venture deep into them to pluck these fruits, braving the thorny bushes, wasps, insects or occasional snakes even.
I had joined this school in 4th standard and most of these kids had been there since beginning. Being small and new, I used to accompany these adventurers sometimes or stay back with the sensible ones on some days. Though, sometimes a parent or teacher or a 'parent who is a teacher' would surprise us and on such occasions, the adventurer kids would run for their lives. (I used to thank my stars for staying back on these occasions) Some of them would be caught and their 'bers' would be confiscated. The fruits turned out to be mostly small and unripe, plucked in haste and greed. The lectures/admonishing/scolding that they would get used to be harsh. So much trouble for such little 'fruit'.

Looking at this large bowl of wild plums and remembering... those naughty adventurer souls, those studious 'didis' who would warn them, those inspecting parents, that rickety rickshaw that would show up an hour late, those thorny scratches, those bulging pockets full of green wild fruits and those victorious smiles of the wanderer fruit gatherers... oh! Come back you scoundrels and I would give you this plate of plums, this whole bowl, those entire shrubs even... if only you would bring back those precious childhood days once more!

(It might look strange that the topic of this post is in Hindi. I could not find any words in English that would express the underlying sentiment like these words do. Thank you for bearing.)

Saturday, 27 January 2018

What's New?


New year and a new post! After all my aspirations, trials and tribulations I am here again finally. These past few months have kept me occupied in various things, craft being the chief one of them. More than anything else, I hone my photography skills(however insignificant) on my crafts these days. So dear reader, you can expect most pictures in my posts related to my crafts. Please bear with them.


Now, lets come to the main subject. I mean Coco. As expected from the son of a strict mother, he is turning into a fine gentlemanly boy, who tries to be of use by putting spoons back in the cutlery stand after licking chyawanprash off of them! Thanks to my keen eyesight and 'Vyomkesh Bakshi' like detective spirits, I spot them right away. So, you can come to my home and stay assured of being served with clean cutlery. Almost always. :D 



Oh, by the way, we have moved into a British era bungalow, that comes with a defunct fireplace et al. But, unlike the good old 'foot of the Himalayas' days, I am yet to discover the joys of staying here. The elaborate engagements of social life and personal matters have kept all of us too busy to look around and smell the flowers. Literally!

But, one can always hope, right! 

Read on for picture descriptions. It might be interesting, I promise!



The topmost picture is of two dreamcatchers out of which the white one is hanging one one of my living room walls delicately. The multicolored one is made on order for someone. It might be interesting for you to know that the rings for both of them come from a large embroidery hoop, that couldn't serve its intended purpose. It hung inside my closet for many years, until one fine day another purpose was found for it. Destiny!

 The second image is of few cards that I made for someone on request. They might look ordinary but they are the fruits of a couple of hours of painting, measuring, cutting, gluing, babysitting, snacking and homing in general.

Then there is one corner of my living room which I tidied up hurriedly before clicking a decent enough picture for the blog. 

The last picture is of Pink Pitari's jewelry, that was lying in separate mounds of necklaces and earrings while I was clicking their pictures for promotions. 

I think this is enough for the first post of the year. Hope to be here more often. 


Monday, 31 July 2017

Rainbows And Paper Boats



As we have settled in yet another cantonment with renewed enthusiasm, things are taking their own course in a much satisfying way. Craft is happening, Pink Pitari is going on and Coco is growing up to become smarter and sharper, with a million questions ready in his arsenal. Amid pouring rains, the lazy woman is making her crafting time worthwhile with lemon tea, the teabags for which were carefully packed back in April when we were moving from the tea-town. It proves that I can only plan in advance if it involves tea or craft!

It rained cats and dogs on his supposedly first day of school, and he was home, playing with his toys in the veranda, when I started telling him how we used to make paper boats during rains as children. He laughed at the idea that his mother could ever have been a child. And then it struck me...isn't it better to make a couple of boats for him rather than telling him stories of a time he can hardly imagine. Out came a few sheets from his old notebooks and the boats were sailing in the temporary lake formed outside our house within next five minutes, bobbing up and down, chasing each other.

While the usual bringing up Coco is happening, I always keep pace with my craft projects, and to be true, it is becoming quite a passion for me. Though it is difficult to find good quality craft supplies in the new town, the lazy woman has resorted to online shopping of the materials and is churning out heart stealers on a regular basis. 


To sum it up, life is good wherever you want to make it good, and it is good here too. Another house shifting is coming up soon as we will move to a nice bigger house, and the stories of crafting in the garden will resume soon. Like the old, old times you know!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Peppa And Pitari

 

Although managing Pink Pitari takes most of my time, certain things are absolutely required to be done. One of them is taking Coco to little people's birthdays and other special occasions. He has learnt to bring gifts (which are already packed and he has no idea about what is in there) and other procedures typical of such events. He is most fond of the return gifts that he gets at the end of the party, so much so that he would like to end the party as soon as he reaches the venue.  

handmade

Choosing gifts for little people is a much more complicated task if someone wants to give it a thought. Well, there are not many options besides toys, and there are times when one tends to think beyond toys, especially when likes and taste of people at the receiving end are also well known. Things can also be planned well in advance for people who are enthusiastic about it so that they never let you forget such an important date. So when such a friend and a neighbor had her son's birthday coming up, I straightaway asked her if she would like to receive custom made lunch towels like these (Made for Coco when he first started going to playschool,) as a birthday gift for her little gentleman:

hand made

She replied with a chirpy yes and I set myself to work. I was planning to make a set of two linen napkins with the kid's name simply embroidered on them. But that would be simply copying, even if it is copying my own work. With every new project, I ought to bring in something new. I thought of adding his favorite cartoon character on the napkins then and asked her which character would it be. I was thinking about Doraemon or Chhota Bheem but was almost shocked to know that it was Peppa The Pig, shocked because I didn't know there was such a cartoon character. I came home and researched a little on the internet and indeedy! There is not only Peppa, there is a whole pig family which I didn't know about. I found the pattern and started making it. I was doubly shocked when Coco exclaimed, 'Mommy... it's Peppa!' Oh! So I am an oldie. Pigs are in! And all the smart little people know them.

hand embroidered

 I overcame my shock soon because the pig came up adorably. When I sent my friend a little snapshot of the pig, she declared, 'I will get it framed. No way am I going to give this lovely thing to a four-year old to wipe his greasy hands on.' Considering this, I decided to do more embroidery to make this napkin look like a picture. Since Peppa was already done, I had the surrounding areas left, but it required me to try a lot of permutations and combinations because the pig was only meant to be an embellishment originally and hence at an odd place for a frame.

handmade

 Some more research took place and I finalized the above design, decided the fonts and stitches and completed it as soon as I could. Though, my promise of a lunch towel was still not fulfilled and only a framable piece of cloth did not make sense as a birthday gift to me. So, I also embroidered another napkin with the kid's name in red cross stitch letters. Now I had a set of napkins, one for framing, one for actual use. 

custom made embroidery

 While I was working on these, Coco kept me entertained by asking all kinds of questions about them. 'Mumma, why are you making this? Who are you making it for? Is it for me? I like George pig more, so please make George pig for me!'

'Who is this George pig now?' I wondered and Coco promptly told me everything about them. I also saw a few episodes of 'Peppa Pig' series on TV and it helped me overcome my ignorance. Mighty big pigs, driving cars and learning ballet! 

handmade

To round everything up, I made Pink Pitari's signature pompom tie and neatly stacked the two napkins, tying them with it. Packed together with a chocolate box, these made a good gift, making both mommy and her little gentleman happy. That was what I was precisely aiming for. Mission accomplished!

handmade candle

By the way, these ties are exclusively made by me for Swati from 'BloomingBluess' who uses these in her rainbow candles. Go, visit her page now which is a collection of colourful handmade home decor items. Feed your eyes some more candy. It is good for them!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

I Like To Move It, Move It!


Hello from another corner of our incredible country!

Yes, we did it again.. I mean shifting to another station. Though, last time, we moved to a place that is famous for its scenic beauty and cool climate. This time, we are braving the scorching heat in a crowded city of North India. However, like all feisty army wives, I have made my peace with this place and already liking the fact that for the first time in so many years, I will be living in the heart of a bustling town, with markets and malls in close vicinity. You win some, you lose some.


In contemplative moments, I compare my life to a snail who carries her home on her back. The news that I just delivered in a sentence has a deep impact on all our lives. While Coco is enjoying an extended summer break, I have taken a break from my incessant crafting and Coco's father has his own gazillion things to chalk out. In the next few months, we will gradually settle in this new place, find a new school, meet new people and make new goals. But today, as I was going through my photo albums, I found images captured towards the end of our previous tenure and thought of sharing them here.


1. Missing the green views of tea gardens sprawled about us, covering the blue hills like plush quilts.



2. Remembering how the clouds tumbled down the adjoining hills to the lush green grass of the golf course, amid a pleasant drizzle.


3. Wish I could again have a window in my home that showed me the above view, of clouds surfing deep down the valley beneath the hill on which my home was, while I sipped my ultra delicious lemon-black pepper tea. Ahhh! Those were the days..


4. Also close to my heart are the many intermittent 3 day breaks during the year gone by when we explored South India. The picture above was taken at Dhanushkodi where Coco enjoyed playing in the sand and splashing in sea-water to his heart's content. Fun fact about this pic: He is standing at the land's end with his face towards Sri-Lanka. 
   

5. There is almost no chance that I can witness the sun setting beyond the hills of Ooty from my home again.


6. Holed up in a guest house during long summer days, while all my craft supplies are packed away in trunks along with the rest of my household things, all I dream of these days is how I will dance with joy when I will access them again. I can also be found watching entire seasons of  old comedy series (repeating for 10th time probably), sleeping for hours and lost in crafty dreams. 


7. A lot of those crafty daydreams include the plans of how I will make a neat and cozy space for my crafts in my new home. However these plans are highly dependent on what kind of house do we get and when. Above is a shot of the tiny corner where I sat and made some of my jewellery. Cute, isn't it?


8. One of the best things that we as a family experienced and loved here is the Nilgiri Mountain Railway aka the toy train that courses through the hills amid sprawling green tea gardens. The trips were planned to please Coco, though, it must be clear that we enjoyed it with equal joy, our hearts springing with each new wonderful view as we watched left and right.


9. While the entire tenure was about scenic beauty, picnics, outdoor barbecues and hikes, this particular bike ride-cum-hike to Pristine Valley near Ooty was a memorable one. It was fun, beautiful, adventurous, dangerous and tiresome, all at the same time, with Coco's father throwing his phone in the water for the umpteenth time, an incident that will be the told and retold for years henceforth, each time increasing in comical value.


10. Memories of blue hills can never be complete without missing each of my friends that I made here, and I made friends by dozens. A very small number considering the fact that the hills housed almost 400 of us. Here, some of them are seen pondering over deep questions that I threw at them. Don't go by this picture, each one of them is quite a fireball by herself. This morning of potluck breakfast and a mean game of Housie is etched in each of our memories. High five girls!


Obviously I am missing all this and much more, I am also looking forward to the days, months and years we are about to spend in this happening new place. A move is something that I am always okay with because this is one of the many things that I love about being an army wife. It keeps me engaged and interested, with ever changing scenes and scenarios. After all, change is the only constant in life, ain't it?!