Loo and behold!

Loo and behold!

Travel makes for memorable moments. Moments we reminisce about on days when we  wish we could just leave for some place, but can’t.   Having been more on road trips, it has been a delight watching Life from closeup, meeting people with an attitude towards Life that can teach us so much, and collecting memories that make for wonderful companions on lonely days.

One incident, though, that always leaves me amused each time I pass by a public washroom is one I experienced on my honeymoon, when we were travelling to a coastal region of Maharashtra – Shrivardhan – from a hill station – Mahabaleshwar.

Our bus had stopped by a village and the driver had given us a 15 minute break to attend nature’s call, or have any refreshments.

We had been travelling for quite a long time and I needed to use the washroom. But, it being a village, hubby warned me about the dearth of clean washrooms. Either I had to use what I could find, or control myself for the next couple hours till we reached our destination.

I wondered aloud how a village could be deemed  under-developed if it had a school built for its children! Moreover, the place really did not resemble a typical village. The smirk on hubby’s face notwithstanding, I disembarked the bus, and  headed towards the school our bus had stopped by, to investigate for myself.

After looking around for a few minutes, I spotted a board that said, “Girls’ toilet“. Heaving a sigh of relief, I moved towards it, but was hit by the stench of urine and almost retched.

Sending up a quick prayer, I reached the doorway of the washroom only to find two little girls squatting on the floor, doing, what else? answering to nature’s call! Stunned and embarrassed, I didn’t know where to look. Turning around and looking anywhere but, I asked them where the toilet was.

The girls giggled and replied, “This is the toilet! Come, join us!” and burst out guffawing!

I fled the spot, ran out of the school building and got back into the bus, much to hubby’s amusement and my embarrassment.

I fail to remember how I controlled my bladder for the next couple hours, but, I do remember that incident each time we decide to travel by road. It taught me a big lesson, though: Drink less water when on a road trip!

And, it also taught me to look at the funnier side of life rather than despairing over the misery life can be at times.

Do you have any such travel tales to share? Memories that make you chuckle and refresh your mood? Do share with me in the comments below!

 

Love,

SHILPA…

 

Tales from a road trip.

 

Happy pedalling!

Happy pedalling!

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Few days ago, I spotted a little girl cycling  around my apartment complex, oblivious to the world. It was nostalgia for me as I remembered my childhood, when as a little girl, I had done the same, albeit a bit later than my friends.

Not adept at pedalling, I spent many an evening watching my friends cycling around our neighbourhood, laughing as they pedalled by.

Their happy demeanour never failed to catch my eye. The ribbons in their pigtails coming loose as they flew past on their cycles, their giggles echoing all around as they swapped jokes about this or that, or teased each other as they raced ahead. How I yearned to join them and experience the magic, myself!

No, they never teased me, or laughed at the lone figure  watching them (with a tinge of jealousy). Their laughter was born out of  the freedom they experienced on their two-wheelers. Or so I would like to believe.

An older cousin promised to teach me to cycle. Sadly, though, he lacked patience and was not very good at managing his time.

Dad used to be busy with his work, and expecting mum to run alongside  me as I cycled, was unimaginable! I remember wondering how long before I would be one of those girls, atop my own bicycle, shrieking with delight.

One fine day, the sun shone from behind the clouds of despair and Lady Luck smiled upon me. Uncle Shri, our friendly neighbour,  called out to me as I stood in my veranda, watching my friends cycle.

Why don’t you join your friends, Shilpa?” he enquired.

“I am afraid I can’t cycle, Uncle,” I murmured, embarrassedly.

“Uh-huh. No problem, child. I will teach you to  cycle. Believe me, it is the most easiest thing on earth! In fact, you can learn it in a day!” he gushed.

His excitement was highly contagious, because no sooner were those words out of his mouth than I grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the shop that gave cycles on rent.

A rupee for an hour was the rent for the rusty  bicycles. I was thrilled simply to be standing there, gaping at those beauties!  It was indeed my lucky day!

Uncle Shri paid the rent and urged me to climb onto a cycle. Gingerly, I perched onto its triangular seat and held the handlebar with my cold and trembling hands. My feet  firmly on the ground, I waited for the next instruction. Uncle Shri noticed the enthusiasm in my eyes, perhaps, because he had this big smile on his benevolent face.

“Now, Shilpa,  all you need to do, is place your feet on the pedals and, well, pedal away!   Oh, and remember,  do not look down. You must focus on the road ahead ,okay? “ he beamed, encouragingly.

“But, Uncle, what if I lose my balance and fall?” I mumbled, nervously.

“Don’t you worry, little one, “ Uncle assured me, “I will run alongside you and hold you if you fall. You just look ahead and pedal, okay?”

Trembling with excitement and nervousness, I began to pedal – slowly, at first, and then a little faster – wobbling and faltering, I manoeuvred my way through the busy street, with Uncle running alongside me, cheering on.

Try as I might, my eyes wouldn’t leave the cycle’s handlebar. I was too exhilarated to remember Uncle’s instructions.  Each time he said, “Look up, Shilpa! You might run into someone!” I would jerk my head up and look ahead, and then lower my head all over again, to gaze at the rotating wheel.

So mesmerised was I in the entire activity, I did not even notice when Uncle let go of my seat. I just kept pedalling on!

I cycled up to my house and called out to mum. Squealed would be the right word here, because she rushed outdoors to see what the matter was. My ear-to-ear grin was enough for mum to know I was finally  fulfilling my dream, thanks to Uncle Shri.

Uncle was so right. That day, I  had learnt to cycle!  Well, almost.  It did take some more days for me to learn to focus on the road. Days, and some mishaps, too.

But, I learnt to cycle, and  soon joined my gang of girls.

And, experienced that magic I had been longing for all those days.

All thanks to Uncle Shri.

Image source: PIXABAY

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Something’s fishy! #Flavoursometuesdays

Something’s fishy! #Flavoursometuesdays

Hello, and welcome to flavoursome Tuesdays, with me and Sunita Rajwade, sharing stories revolving around food, memories sweet and sour….or, to put it simply, bonding over food!

Today’s post is a memory from 20 years ago. A memory that has stayed so fresh, it feels like it was just yesterday that I found myself in a soup, or rather, fish curry!

I was a new bride on my honeymoon to Srivardhan, a coastal village of Maharashtra. Hubby and I were staying at his bro-in-law’s house in a quiet lane that wound all the way to the  beach. Coconut trees dotted every corner of the  village which smelled of the sea. In the dead of night one could hear the waves rushing towards the coast, drenching the golden sands with its salty waters.

The peace and quiet of the place was bliss after all the hullabaloo of the wedding and we lapped it all up hungrily. As there was no cook in the house we were staying in, we would go to the market, buy stuff we needed and cook it ourselves, Well, hubby cooked mostly as I was really not a great cook back then.

The first time I cooked rice in a vessel instead of the rice cooker, I burnt it! So, after that episode I preferred playing the role of the sous-chef and helping in cutting and chopping the veggies and kneading the dough for the chapatis (which I could prepare, thankfully!). So, the days were passing by beautifully, discovering the sights around and relishing the local food.

One fine day, hubby’s uncle who had a house nearby dropped in when he learnt we were in the vicinity. And, to make us feel welcome, he invited us for lunch at his place. I was glad we didn’t have to cook, so we grabbed the invitation with both hands and landed at his doorstep at lunch hour.

He was in a buoyant mood as he had cooked the lunch himself! He kept on boasting about how he had learnt to cook since aunty stayed in Pune most of the time and he at Srivardhan so he had to be independent. I felt in awe of the men of this family since they all seemed to be such good cooks…until..

Until the food arrived.

Now, it being a village in the coastal region, you can guess what the staple diet of the locals can be! Well, it was fish curry and rice. ONLY.

I being a Brahmin, was not used to eating fish, at all. All I knew was dal, rice, veggies, salads and chapati, and here there was just fish curry and rice! Those not used to eating  non-veg food can understand my plight, I hope. I was in a dilemma – to eat or not to eat, was the question. But, there being nothing but fish and rice, and me being a new daughter-in-law, I had no choice but to eat what had been served. And, be a good girl!

So, I ate it…fish curry and rice – the very first non-veg lunch of my life! Hubby, being the straightforward guy that he is, gave a candid opinion about the lunch being so vegetarian-unfriendly. I nudged him to keep quiet and let it be, but he is not  diplomatic, like his wife. Uncle – the poor old man – was embarrassed no end. He apologised profusely, making me feel so much more awkward. But, there was really nothing he could do either.

I just thank God I didn’t retch that day! It would have been too much for the old man to handle!

I began eating non-veg after that incident. And, relishing it, too. That’s a different story, altogether. But, I wish I had been initiated into this whole diet change program with a bit more planning and all. It would have been easier on the nerves. Or, rather, my stomach!

That’s all for  today, folks!

Do read Sunita Rajwade’s post on #flavoursometuesdays here.

Do you have any food-related stories you would like to share? Happy stories, or memorable incidents revolving around food are all welcome here. Just add the hashtag #flavoursometuesdays and write away!

 

Love,

SHILPA..

 

Image source: PIXABAY

Love bites…A happy post.

Love bites…A happy post.

No, no. This post has nothing to do with erotica! It also isn’t about love that bites (as in, our fur babies, who enjoy nipping, nibbling etc when in  prankster mode). It’s about a  little something I have been indulging in since some time now.

My mind being very productive tends to go off on its own endless trips when left idle. Needless to say, such trips can  leave me totally exhausted, mentally and emotionally. So, some time back, I decided to keep it engaged in some more activities, apart from writing and art, so that it would stay happy despite all the chaos that life can be.

I began baking, seriously. I did bake earlier, too, but this time, I decided to really take  efforts in working on my baking skills with the help of my dear cousin, who is an accomplished baker herself. I began with different types of cookies and cupcakes and, fortunately, they turned out quite well! Chikoo would drool when those babies were getting baked in the oven, so I know. His drool spoke a lot about their goodness!
And, these are the love bites I am talking about! 😀 I mean, who doesn’t love to have a bite  of such sinfully tasty things, haan?
I have been baking like a woman possessed, baking being such a therapeutic activity. Moreover, people buy the stuff I bake, so thankfully, I don’t have to pile on the calories all by myself! 😜

I remember how Chikoo would begin howling no sooner the aroma of the cakes would reach his highly sensitive nose and beg me to give him some..

Chikoo demanding his share!

For the love of God, stop torturing me, woman, and just bring me some of those goodies, will ya?”
he would say. Never was he satisfied with a bite or two. He would demand a lot more and made sure I gave him all he asked for. I knew it wasn’t good for his health, but I felt that he had lived his life eating all the healthy (and boring) food I gave him, day in day out, without grumbling even once, and now that he was old, he ought to enjoy in every way.

Chikoo by the oven, when he could walk.

These days as I bake, my thoughts invariably take me to the not-so-distant past, when Chikoo would keep loitering around the kitchen (or insist I help him move to that favourite spot of his when he couldn’t walk) and keep staring at me as I worked. His olfactory organs on high alert, waiting to catch the first whiff of the oven baked yummies, his tongue drooling puddles as he sat in anticipation of his favourite cakes and cookies.

Nowadays, I place his picture frame on the dining table that’s right across the kitchen, so each time I turn around, I find him staring back at me from the frame, inundating me with those sweet memories of the past. It brings a lump to my throat as I realise he isn’t here to demand his share of my cakes, anymore, but I know he is there, somewhere around, drooling at the heavenly aroma!

********************

Today, it’s two weeks since my little fella crossed the rainbow bridge. There are moments when I smile – giggle, too –  as I reminisce about our past. But, there are also moments when the tears, they gush out unannounced, and leave me completely drained. But, then, so is life, isn’t it? We all miss our people when they are no more with us. At times, their memories make us laugh, at times they make us weep, and then when these moments pass us by, we get on with life, all over again!

I do have a bone to pick with Chikoo, though. It’s been two long weeks, and not once has he visited me in my dreams! I mean, I have a whole lot of people who do, but this little guy seems to have forgotten me completely!

Hey, Chikoo, are you listening?

******************

Chikoo:  Chillax, mom! Yeah, that’s one of the new and cool words my buddies here taught me. And they are so much better than those boring words you drilled into my head every time you went clickety-click at your laptop!
Anyway, woman, just ‘coz I haven’t visited you in your dreams does not mean I have forgotten you, okay? Don’t you know I reside in your heart? The thing that goes thud-thud in your heart isn’t your heartbeat, it’s my tail, wagging against your chest, you dodo! 
Oh, and I am also very much around you…all the time. Those vanilla cakes you baked today..those smelled like heaven. Ah, I wish they baked those things here, too. Then, I would have my cake and eat it, too! Bwahahahaha! 

Oh, by the way, mom, I am gonna be busy for some time. Psst..there are some really sexy girls out here, and, they hardly leave me alone! So, ya see, I will come visit ya in your dreams once those chicks give me a break! 
Until then, ciao, mom! 
Take care!











Sweet memories.

Sweet memories.

We bloggers do stumble upon writing prompts in the unlikeliest of places, don’t we?  Like I did, just a while ago. Of course, it isn’t the unlikeliest of places; it’s a blog I just visited where my dear friend,  Shailaja,  has written a beautiful post – do visit her. But, it was there, that I remembered a time from years ago, which prompted me to write this post!

Let me begin by asking you a fun question.

Do you remember which cosmetics you owned or used for the very first time in your life? How did it make you feel?

Mine has to be a bright orange nail polish my mum bought for me, quite surreptitiously, I must say!

Back then, when I was in school, we weren’t permitted to use cosmetics, jewellery, et al. But, that’s precisely why I loved wearing those things so much!  I remember vividly, I had this pair of blue and white studs – the cheap plastic ones we got for a few bucks – that matched with my school uniform. And, every day, as I got ready for school, my hand would fondly reach out to them, pick them up gingerly and yearn to put them on. But, I knew dad would never approve of it.

“You are going to school, not a fashion parade!” he would say.

Scared that I was of the man,  I would drop those pretty blue studs back into their box and close the lid, on the box and on my desires. Why couldn’t he be a wee bit indulgent?  my young mind would wonder, longingly.
Despite knowing how dad disapproved of all things bling-y, I was in love with it all – jewellery, nail polish, lipstick.

Mum owned a red lipstick, which she never applied, ever. I once stumbled upon it when I was rummaging through mum’s cupboard. My joy knew no bounds! Checking to make sure no one was around, I took some of it on my finger and applied it on my lips. It wasn’t in a tube, but in a small, rectangular case. I could have pocketed the case for myself, if I could, but left it where it was. And, each time my parents went out on some or other errand, I would rush to mum’s cupboard, reach in and grab the lipstick case, dab a bit of it on my lips and keep staring at my reflection in the mirror.

Sadly, as mysteriously as it had appeared, it disappeared, too. I was heartbroken for quite some time, but soon got over it, because there was something new I had laid my eyes on, something I had never owned.  I spotted a bottle of nail polish at a friend’s place, and now I craved for it!  I did not even know how much a nail polish cost back then, but, oh how I yearned to own one!

I pleaded with mum to buy one for me. But, she refused – at first gently and then a bit firmly- to fulfil my itsy-bitsy wish! Eventually, seeing me crestfallen, she relented and went ahead and bought that much-desired bottle of magic, surreptitiously; I was advised to apply it only during vacations,  else I would be at the receiving end of dad’s ire.

The said polish was orange in colour – bright orange, to be precise. A colour I would simply brush aside if placed before me now. But, to the kid in me, back then, it was nothing short of a miracle that I now owned a nail polish! And, I remember very clearly, there was a tiny ball ensconced in the lid of the bottle, so whenever I shook the bottle before applying the paint, it made a tic-tic sound. It was music to my ears, that sweet melody!

I used the polish sparingly, lest it got over quickly. I would wait for the vacations to begin  so that I could paint my nails and keep staring at them, admiringly! I did crave to use it oftener, but hesitated; it would amount to blasphemy in dad’s books! Of course, the paint dried up, eventually, and I had to let go of my precious belonging. Sigh. It was a tough decision for the little girl in me to part with an object that had given me immense happiness. It was so dear to me, I remember all about it to this day!

Guess, I am a bit too sentimental a person; I find it difficult to let go of people, too! People, who have been so dear to me, that letting go can be  torturous, but I tend to also remember them, for years to come. Ah, well, let’s talk about that in some other post, shall we? For now, I just want to delight in these sweet memories of my distant past. Maybe, I will go paint my nails in a shade of my now-preferred brown, and also call up mum, so we can reminisce about those halcyon days together!

It was mum’s love, unconditional love, that led her to give in to my childish demands. It was her  craving for some precious mother – daughter moments that she must have wished to collect and preserve for the future, when her little girl would be all grown up, living a life of her own. Moments that would fill her heart with the joy that nothing else ever can. We never really know how a mother’s heart functions, do we?

Thank you, mum, for these sweet memories! They are still alive within me and bring me endless joy during moments of melancholy that threaten my peace of mind, every once in a while. Thank you for those fun moments; they taught me so much about what goes in making a perfect mother!

Do share with me your sweet memories! I am sure they will take you on a happy stroll in your past and help you return refreshed, rejuvenated!

Love,

SHILPA.