February Ramblings : 1 – Lunar Eclipse 2018

Okay, I’m too lazy to think of a more appealing post title.

Welcome to February Ramblings, a blogathon conceptualized by the Lady at Shail’s Nest. The purpose is to ramble…so here I start.

I watched the total lunar eclipse that occurred after 150 years, because it took place on a super blue moon night. (I have yet to know what a super moon means.)

In the year 2004, I had seen the total lunar eclipse that happened in the dead of the night. If I remember right, the moon was wholly red at about 2.30 am and looked like an orange – with its rough ‘peely’ (pockmarked) surface.

When I saw the ring (I know there’s no ‘ring’ ring in lunar eclipse, but I call the first illumination moment that) from the tallest building in the town yesterday, I racked my brain to remember ‘that’ moment from 2004. For the life of me, I couldn’t. Maybe I had fallen asleep after waiting too long for the eclipse to start lifting.

Let me give you a little background on how I watched that eclipse. It was the summer vacation after 12th. The younger sibling was enrolled in a Cricket Camp in Baroda, and we were also hosting one of his school friends from our town, at my Nana’s place. If you know Baroda (yes, uh Vadodara or as the locals say – Baoda), the summers are extreme. The only respite is the night breeze.

My Nana’s place was a quaint row house near the newly functional Airport, and the terrace was the perfect place to camp out with a few mattresses, for a good night’s sleep. The plus point for parents was that the sunlight at 7 am was so strong that we couldn’t sleep past reasonable waking up hours!

As usual, out of the 3 children and 1 grown-up (my Mom) who slept on the terrace, I was the only one excited about the eclipse. I was over the moon thinking – now I can boast about seeing both total solar (1999) and total lunar eclipse. I stayed awake past my bed time of 10 pm till 2.30, marveling at the celestial wonder. People on the terrace woke up for a moment or two and then went back to sleep. And looks like I had drifted off too, for when I woke up the moon was almost all visible.

So, to conclude, I had watched the total lunar eclipse partially, and only completed watching it now, because funnily enough, I couldn’t see the moon till it was fully engulfed by the shadow at 6:21 pm. I didn’t get to see the half I had seen and saw the half I hadn’t. (OMG, I’m truly rambling!)

Getting back to what is the original point of this post – to ruminate on the mental state in which I saw both the eclipses. Sorry for keeping you in the shadows…

In that summer of 2004, I had heavily messed up my board exams. I knew the results wouldn’t be too attractive, but I also thought that there was a safety net of 80% – I was not that dumb that I could fall below that. (Or so I thought.)

I had nightmares where I couldn’t finish my paper or didn’t know what to write, because I had ‘forgotten’ to attend the classes for a subject. I had shared my feelings about my grades, but I had not shared those nightmares with anyone. In the day time, I used to have a queer feeling in my tummy – a feeling of  impending dread.

Most of the times I managed to ignore it by keeping myself occupied in reading, and playing cricket with the guys. When left to my own devices, there was a constant feeling of dread running in the background.

One day, I decided to face it head on. Was I afraid of what my teachers would say? Or was it what friends and family would have to say? Was it because there were friends and cousins to whom I’d be compared to? Was it because I thought the marks would not be enough to get into a decent engineering college?

The answer to all these questions was ‘No‘. I had that feeling because I knew I had not done enough, when I easily could have.

To not keep you in suspense, I got 77.7%. The safety net didn’t catch me. I reaped what I sowed. I made up for the fiasco in the entrance exams and did get into a good engineering college.

Coming back to the future… I thought on my present mental state. I have that queer feeling in my tummy again every single day.

While the feeling is of the same nature,the cause is not the same. As opposed to 2004, in 2017/18 – I feel have indeed done all I could. After a lot of mulling over, I think the feeling is because over the course of time, I turned into a people-pleaser and the nagging feeling is because people feel that I haven’t done enough.

To sum up, my uneasiness stems from the fact that my ‘all I could‘ isn’t ‘enough‘ for others!

Looking at the eclipsed moon yesterday, I realized that I have learned to face it, and use it to my advantage. It now keeps me on my toes and makes me do the right thing for myself.

Then, I had an illusion about a safety net. Now, I have none.

I know that I’m on my own, and that makes me resolute in my vow to never have that queer feeling in my tummy again, by doing what I have to do to evolve in order to reach the best of my potential!

 

To my dead Cat

Chunky, my dear pet.
(Oh how you hated the vet!)

You were but a week or two,
when Mom found you,
licking the cauldron of ghee
in adorable kittenish glee…

Before you, I never had a ‘real’ pet
All came, and went away or were sent away pat * 🙁
But you were different
Oh you were so adamant!

To you, I was introduced –
when I came back from the tuition. Boy, I was so very deuced!
You were hiding in the farthest corner under the ‘computer room’s’ bed,
Oh hello, little one…I bent and said.

All squiggly and wiggly, you walked to me.
As I sat down, you purred and circled me.
You were so delicate, but boy, did your purring motor race!
For the first time in my life…a fur-ball had me scare(d)!

They let me keep you,
rather, they themselves kept you!
You were soon family,
The house’s youngest member, officially!

Then you unleashed your childhood.
You were a fussy eater – miss puss-in-boots.
Milk, you drank.
From bread, you shrank.
Buttermilk, sometimes.
The shake incidence, we still narrate at family story times!****

In the living room, you had your own cat-home.
A large metal cage, with a pretty dome.
By the day, the grounds you’d roam,
at night, you had no choice, but to stay home.

Then the hunter in you showed up.
At your sight, the birds would warily chirrup.
You chased insects, who did not heed you at all
One bit your nose. Since then, you ran at the sight of all!

You left behind your childhood garb goofy,
and after teenage, you turned into a celebrated beauty.
You made me an insecure Mom,
when you went out with that tall-dark-handsome Tom!

I soon realized there’s more than food in your tummy,
My God! My li’l Chunky was now a soon-to-be Mummy!
You rested in my lap,
And I watched you nap…

Days went by, and that summer, we had new babies,
I am thankful, you didn’t make me change their nappies 😛
What a joy it was, to see you transform –
from a helpless kitten, to a hands-on cat-Mom.

The rest, my dear, is history.
Far and wide, you and your clan spread your glory.
One day, just like you had appeared,
you disappeared.

I never had a chance,
to give you another glance.
Our meetings had become so rare,
after I was off to College, I had little home-time to spare.

I knew you were gone,
but my heart would have of that none.
You met me in my dreams,
leaving clues, muffled screams…

Of where you’d be,
Of where I should see…
Were you in your old spots where you’d hide
as a kitten, when you didn’t want to be grounded at night?
Speak to me,
I want to rescue you, my child…

And then I woke up,
all shaken up.
I was positive you were in danger,
and I could do nothing but hanker.

One day, you met me in dreams again,
we were at home, and you came hopping in like a mad man.
I screamed. This time with joy,
Come ‘ere, that’s my dear boy!

You played with me, to both our heart’s content,
that’s when I realised, you still seemed distant.
Almost heavenly.
That’s when it hit me.
The way you looked at me,
Even in my dreams, I knew, this is the last I’d see.
Of you, my dear Chunky,
you dear dear cat spunky.

You bid me adieu,
didn’t you?
‘Cos since then,
I haven’t seen you.

Not even in my dreams…
And now, there are no silent screams.
Looks like you’ve found your peace.
Although you were never the one for it, you tease!

Last week, I saw a movie,**
in which there was a playful doggie.
He came back to meet his human friend,
After 50+ years end…

Somehow I know you, you dead cat.
You are planning something…tell me what you’re at!
Are you gonna come back to me, when I am tired and old,
to meet ‘him’ too? He was there, back then too you know – why, that’d be gold!***

If you’d only say, and oh if you’d said it sooner,
I’d have spared that emotional shower,
when I cried my heart out, a year after you did disappear…
Yeah, I took my time until you told me that you’re dead, you heart-breaker 🙂

Now be a gem, and say you’ll be back, even if it’s for the rat(s)!
You nut, you crazy crazy whippersnapper, you smug li’l brat!

* We had a lot of rescue kittens, dogs and birds. We nursed them and set them free wherever they were found. So we had a lot of animals over, but they never stayed as pets.
** A dog’s purpose
*** Reference from A Dog’s Purpose : Ethan’s girlfriend had met Bailey, his Red Retriever dog. After reincarnation, the trio meet again. When Chunky came to live with us, Abhijeet was in town too! He hasn’t met her though. Till now that is… 😛 Ok, I am not crazy, I am just trying to make this poem as good a tearjerker as the movie.
**** Quite a story…saving it for other times…
So this is how 2 week old kittens look. Chunky was found exactly at this age –

Day 14 : Children’s Day

NaBloPoMo November 2016

My school friend called me yesterday (14 Nov 2016). We were in the same class from Nursery to 12th. We used to study together for exams in some of the years.

She was remembering one children’s day celebration that I had organised at my place. I like to rummage through old stuff, which is aplenty in our 150+ year old house and the ground surrounding it (we used to own a ginning factory). One fine day in the late 90s or in the year 2000, I found a framed photograph of Jawaharlal Nehru. Children’s Day was approaching, and a Hindi lesson where a gang of girls decide to clean up their village was influencing me a lot. So I decided to have a gathering where we make our own gang of girls.

Incidentally, the leader of the fictional gang and my friend N shared the same name. That made me believe that we can bring about a ‘Kranti’ – a revolution.

I called up all the interested girls in our class on the 13th. I am happy to say most of them turned up. We were about 6-8 attendees at the gathering.

I dusted Chacha Nehru’s photograph, took out the jumbo chattai (carpet) to spread under the neem tree in our ground – the venue for the gathering, and cleared the neem twigs with a kharata (broom). At around 12 o’clock, the photograph was propped up on the chair, which was kept near the carpet.

My Mom had made snacks for us. I don’t remember clearly, but all the attendees brought something from their home. Yes, I think they did.

The gathering was planned with utmost detail. When all had arrived, we lit an agarbatti (incense stick) as homage to the great soul. I had prepared a speech, which seemed very inspiring to me. Everybody listened till they could, and then shut me up. 😐

We played passing the parcel. The winner got a prize. Then we had our dabbas in the cool breeze under the neem tree, which gave us shade in the otherwise sunny afternoon. Time seemed to stop. When the meeting was over, handkerchiefs were handed out to everyone as a return gift. (I got to know afterwards that giving a handkerchief to someone is considered a bad omen. Your friendships turn sour, if you do. Well, I am happy to say that it is not so and they might be saying that for used hankys ‘cos they spread infections. We all have retained touch with each other and have stronger ties than ever.)

Of course, we did not realise the significance then. We do now. It was an attempt to freeze our childhood which was running out fast – all of us were in already in our teens.

We fought over the futility of the idea, there was reluctance in getting together, but when we did – we made a merry afternoon of the gathering. There were many such gatherings (not on children’s day) at intervals of 5-6 years after each. The reluctance was always present, last minute drop-outs were coaxed and dragged into the train/car to Lonavala and we kept on making memories like that noon.

Thanks N, for reminding me of that Children’s Day yesterday! Love you, and love our gang of girls!

Day 16 : Something that you miss

There are many things that I miss. Most of the times, they get auto-blocked considering I have so many things to do at all given times. One thing that I cannot block and often comes to me in my dreams is my childhood.

Childhood to me is till 17, the wonderful 17 years that I spent at home – with the most amazing school buddies one could have.

I miss the quiet afternoons painting in the shade of the giant neem tree in our ground. Though I could hardly paint, I miss the pains I undertook to try to paint.

I miss the starry nights and the once-seen meteor shower where we counted upto 459 shooting stars. They were so near, the stars…

I miss Chunky, my cat. How she came running from about 5 blocks away when I called out from the terrace…

I miss my grandparents’ health. I do not like to see them frail.

I miss being awed by special effects in movies like the Jurassic Park.

I miss the grandeur of the zoo and the planetarium at Baroda – it is in ruins now. As a kid I was left open jawed at the shows, now there is hardly anyone to watch the shows. And the kids are noisy, dabble with mobile phones mid-show – I wish they had the same wonder as our generation. But I am too quick to judge, maybe they wonder at other things now…

I miss being the teacher’s pet. Being scolded and patted on the back, equally.

I miss playing music. I miss reading comics.

I miss being amazed by technology. The first time I handled a computer mouse. The DOS game ‘Carmen’ I played in Computer period…

Mostly, I miss my attitude towards life as a kid. It is there some lucky days; on other days I am forced by grown-ups into thinking like a grown-up – whatever that means, I still have to figure out what thinking like a grown-up means.

There are so many other things I miss…in a good way. But I am happy living on, each day, making new memories, buying new things – that I will someday miss. 🙂

Me and the Jurassic World

I just realized how fans of Star Trek would have felt all this while, when I heard of Jurassic World last month. Funny I had no inkling there was a dino movie in making.

The childhood memories came back rushing. I was 7 when the first movie released. There is a theatre just behind my home (literally! When it was not yet sound-proofed, I could hear every dialogue of the movies showing there. I have been told that it used to be an open theatre and my Dad and his cousins used to watch the movies from our terrace!). They used to extend neighbourly courtesy of allowing the tiny me to watch the show anytime, everyday for free.

Truth to be told, I hated the movie. I was petrified at the thought of the T-rex chasing people in the movie. ‘Cos that was an age when I thought I was with them in the Jurassic Park. It all seemed so real! I think all the kids’ minds augment the CGI effects, till they are below 10. I passed up the ‘watch for free’ opportunity and used to stay only for the scenes where the herbivores roamed tall and free.

Then the second part came. We had gone to watch the movie Border, to the neighbouring district. The theatre there had better sound effects ‘Dolby Digital’! And alas! Border was taken down the same morning and some Lost World was up. Our faces (mine and the younger sibling’s) were worth watching – to have travelled 2 hours for a war movie and to find an English movie up! Those were the days when I barely understood 1 or 2 lines of the foreign accent. The younger sibling was only one when the earlier (Jurassic Park) was released, so he was very curious when we got to know that the Lost World is actually Jurassic Park II. I was hesitant. I had signed up for Border, a war movie – not THAT horror movie again! And they said it was even scarier!! Reluctantly, I stepped in with the family – to 2 and a half hours of sheer horror. The li’l girl’s part in it was comforting though, as I was nearly as old as her – or so I thought 😛

After that, whenever we went to Balaji Talkies – a theatre owned by my friend’s family on a property located at the outskirts of our town (we basically went there to play in the garden, their house was being constructed nearby – so we used to make a half-day trip out of it) – we used to sneak into the ‘balcony’ and watch the scary scenes with open mouths. It was a funny feeling – to be scared to death and enjoy it. Maybe I had grown up. Those were the days when movies ran for months on end. Jurassic Park II stayed for almost 6 months or even a year, enthralled a packed house everyday and the theatre closed down a la the park after that. A fitting end to a legendary theatre of the town. I still remember sneaking in, the guard coming rushing after us and us proudly stating we are the owners or just staring at him till he realised it for himself.

Such was the effect of the movie on our small town that the winning Ganpati pandal that year (organized by my other friend’s grandfather) had a 20 feet T-rex – roaring, walking, and then chasing the spooked and shouting audience. I went there daily and could hear some of the petrified kids earnestly appealing Ganapati Bappa to save them from its wrath!

Jurassic Park III came and went by in a haze. I don’t even remember whether I have watched it or not.

When I was watching the Jurassic World yesterday, it was the first time I thought – ‘Sigh! I should’ve had kids old enough to watch it! Then I could have told them about all the fun I had when I was their age.’

Oh boy! These childhood movie sequels and the nostalgia they evoke!

If you ask me about the movie, thankfully I did not try to analyse the CGI. I watched it with belief. Like I did in childhood. (The only difference being, now I understood each and every dialogue. 😛 ) And I was rewarded. It was a real thrill to discuss memories with the hubby – us having been in the same school! Pity, we never watched the movies together as children 🙂

You should’ve seen my wistful face. And then it gave way to an excited expression – I had just watched a movie which dominated my childhood RPGs- with my husband! These games were not on the screen, by the way, but in actual playgrounds – where we (not me and him, we hardly talked then *sigh*) released the fattest, strongest buffalo and pretended she was T-rex and the winner had to bell it! Later, we added the calves as raptors 😛

Go watch it! You will relive your childhood. Better still if you have kids 🙂 They will relive yours!