Friday, March 12, 2010

Memory Box 5: Age is all in the mind

My mother and the Nik share their birthday. It's today. The 12th of March. Each year from the year the Nik was born my father would tell us how he (Nik) could be tied with ribbon and given to mum every year as a new gift. Bigger and better (?). Free and cute (? haha!). Of course dad never got away with it and always had to shell out for gifts. Worth a try though I reckon.

My mum believes, unwaveringly, that age is all in the mind. It's a quality that I did not inherit. I feel every day of my 34 years with great grouchiness whereas my mother still feels 18 with great joie de vivre. This joy of life and youthfulness of mind has held her in good stead and it's what made so many of my friends and peers be friends with her independent of me. Something that pissed me off when I was a teenager looking for something to get angst-y about but which fills me with pride and smiles all the time now.

When the Nik turned 4 he had a big birthday party. Delicious home made cake (no one makes a devils food cake quite like her) and a multitude of snacks from my mother, the Nigella Lawson of India. All of Nik's pals arrived bearing gifts at around 4pm and after party games it was time to cut the cake and eat some food.

After cutting the cake Nik was sitting on the stairs next to his pal, let's call him Al, and this is the conversation they had:
Nik (chomping on cake): Today is my mums birthday too.
Al (also chomping on cake): Hmmm
Nik (very well coached): Ya, she is 18 today.
Al (not coached at all, clearly): My mum's birthday is on xxxx and she is going to be36.
Nik (not to be left behind): On her next birthday my mum will be 81.

Even at age 11 I found it hilarious.

Today the Nik is 28 and mum, well she is still 18. Happy birthday both!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Memory Box 4: Holi

Two memories from the Holi of my childhood.

1. There is great excitement for one of my parents two children. At age 4 the Nik is finally being allowed out to play holi with his friends; colour powder has been bought in small paper packets and a pichkari to fight the wet fight has been tested. There are a few parents to supervise, make sure the children stay within the gates and off the road and ensure that holi does not disentigrate into a rowdy affair. His best friend comes to collect him at around 9.30 and off he goes attired in an old pair of shorts and a t-shirt, excitement brimming over, knowing that there will be colour and water and that these clothes are destined for the bin. I have exams in a matter of weeks and don't really like holi so after about an hour of playing with dry colours I am home, watching proceedings from the balcony or window, pretending to study.

10 minutes after he leaves the doorbell rings and it is opened with caution. It is Nik, soaked to the bone, demanding a change of clothes BECAUSE THESE ONES ARE WET! So mum rustles up another set of old clothes and makes him change and leave his wet clothes on the floor near the front door. He is sent off again with the warning that he must only come home once he is finished with holi and ready for his bath. 3 minutes later here he is AGAIN, demanding to be changed because his clothes ARE WET. This cycle continues till noon by which time mum has run out of patience and old clothes that can be discarded. There is a sopping pile of clothes by the front door and one very happy, exhausted youngster asleep this afternoon, dreaming of his next holi.

2. My father insisted througout my childhood and probably still does, although we all ignore this point now, that hindi movies would adle the brain. Therefore under no circumstances were we allowed to watch hindi movies. I remember watching a few minutes of some hindi movie on television at my grandparents neighbours house one summer vacation and being admonished and sent home almost immediately because everyone who knew us knew the rules that applied to us.

So it came to pass that I led a deprived-of-hindi-movies childhood. I had nothing to discuss with classmates who had been to watch every Bollywood offering. Instead I buried my head in books (not of the academic kind) and pretended that this difference, this lack of knowledge about the star and storyline of the day just did not bother me.

But the year I went to class 10 I felt that enough was enough, I wanted to learn the secrets of the hindi movie screen, to be 'in' with the discussions on what the latest and greatest in Bollywood were up to. So after some heavy negotiations, in exchange for not playing holi just before my Class 10 Board exams (which would cause a cold/ cough/ tonsilitis/ fever and interfere with academic ha-ha-ha brilliance), I was to be allowed to watch a hindi movie on video while everyone was out playing with colours and water. The year was 1991 but I chose Qayamat se Qayamat tak, released three years previously, just to see whether Amir Khan was indeed a dreamboat. So I stayed home and watched the entire movie from the comfort of my parents bed. 3 hours of plot, dramatic dialogue, costumes and pop-up-out-of-nowhere songs. I was no longer a bollywood novice; I was just like any other teenager who had watched a hindi movie.

But the truth was that it did not change my life, it turned out that Amir Khan was not a dreamboat and that my mind would actually not be adled with just one hindi flick. I would go on to watch many many hindi films and be introduced to what V calls the greatest movies ever. But even now I never watch a hindi film without a quick thought to how late in the day I came to Bollywood movies and how I gave up holi to do so.