Wednesday, March 18, 2009

India bit 5: Girls - friends and family

It’s Tuesday and I am relaxing at home this morning. My Best Friend in the Whole Wide World (One) is coming for lunch and an afternoon with me. We’ve been friends since we were teenagers and although we only see each other about once a year we are on the phone and email a lot. And even when our busy lives do not allow for us to be in touch due to time differences or schedules it makes no difference whatsoever. We always start every conversation right from where we left off and in minutes it’s as if we had always been in just the same place/ space. We’ve holiday-ed together numerous times, had countless sleepovers at each other’s homes and read all the Judy Blume’s and Erma Bombeck’s ever written (and laughed at the exact same bits) sitting in the sun. Our families know each other. Heck, our extended families know each other. We are each other’s history.

She has a new haircut. So do I. My father still thinks she looks like a school kid. She does. I wish I did. The three of us settle down to a lunch of baingan bharta, aloo, simlamirch pyaaz tamatar and parathas. Then dad sits in the doorway, soaking in the afternoon sun and dozing. We sit at the table and get all caught up in reminiscing, planning, gossiping. At 4pm we leave for Select City Walk in Saket where another of my Best Friends in the Whole Wide World (Two) is escaping work early to meet us. The 3 of us went to school together and even though our lives could not be more different today we have a bond that dates back and when we meet it’s as if we are once again school girls in divided skirts and rust pullovers. (One is in filmmaking, Two is in publishing & printing and I am in the Not for Profit sector).

Saket is in many ways coming home. It’s where I spent my formative school years right until at 17 we moved even further South into the wilderness. I know its markets, different blocks and secret roads and galli's, intimately. I have random memories of it, much like film flashback. There were no malls. The ground where 3 of these gigantic malls have now been built was once a barren stretch of land, the road by its side leading towards Chiragh Dilli. So much has changed in Saket. The colonies have high walls around them and spiky gates to hold out intruders as if under siege. There is a giant hospital, the Metro is being built and even the Malaviya Nagar potters look swankier and better lit than before. I still miss it.

Select City Mall is gigantic by any standards and even on a Tuesday afternoon teeming with people. We sit on a Barista sofa where we share cold coffees, cheesecake and news. We also wonder and sdiscuss who all these other coffee-ing people are - bored housewives? flush college students?or just random friends escaping work? Then we wander around and attack the Pratap Sale with a vengeance. While two of us sit on its austere bench the third tries on a pile of (not austerely priced) clothes and we provide the running commentary/ approval/ disapproval. All shopped out (or at least One is) we head for Press Enclave, a stalwart Saket development, where Two has lived since childhood, a place I have visited more times than I can count. Her delightful 4 year old is home and proceeds to beat all 3 of us at a Thomas the Tank Engine memory game that involves remembering whats on each downturned squares and picking out pairs. Age is not kind to us, although we have more accepting humour on our side. After hours of talking I am off to a family dinner, a warm fuzzy feeling cloaking me.

My mama is hosting dinner for a huge bunch of his cousins and their children i.e. my cousins. My mum is one of seemingly hundreds of cousins and as they are all close so am I with many of mine. Everyone arrives at Indian Stretchable Time and soon the room is resounding with chatter and reminiscing as 20 people talk at the same time. Dinner is delicious and we are sated on words and the joy of bonding with family. The girls make a plan for a day of wandering over the next few days. I have laughed till my too full stomach hurts.

Too many dahi bhallas later I am rolling home to sleep. Tuesday was fabulous.

baingan bharta: Smoked/ roasted and mashed aubergine, cooked in the most delightful way.
aloo: In this case, dry roasted and with some hari ka masala
simlamirch pyaaz tamatar: Capsicum/Peppers, onions and tomato's combined and cooked like a stir fry
parathas: Whole wheat flat bread pan-fried in oil
Mama: mother's brother (in this case first cousin)
Dahi bhallas: round urad dal dumplings covered with thick yogurt and drizzled with mint and tamarind chutney's, corriander, cumin powder and chilli powder


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. ....divided skirts and rust pullovers .. R u by any chance a Patelian ... :-)