Saturday, 25 January 2014


This was a special week for these Golden Girls. It was the annual presentation of a certain music class that they are part of. It has been quite a busy time for them. The whole week has been a flurry of activity- filled up with rehearsals, re-rehearsals. Back and forth phone calls- sharing notes on how to sing, when to start, when to end, why the notes don't match up.

And since it was the annual presentation, it was also one that required special attire. They all had to wear a navvari saree. A navvari  is a traditional saree, but with nine yards of fabric. The Grandma is no stranger to a saree, but the draping technique of this particular style was not one that she was familiar with. So the Golden Girls put together a draping session to share tips on how to tame the navvari beast! But that still left some bewildered. Quite honestly Grandma confessed to me - What if it came undone?

And then quite last minute she came home with a big bag. One of the younger members of the team, had  ingeniously rented ready-to-wear navvaris! So this seemingly endless length of fabric had now been reduced to simple pant-style garment. All she had to to was climb into it, fasten some loops to keep it secure at the waist and she was good to go! Looking quite traditional, yet so secretively modern!

Now that the saree was figured out, we had to tackle the jewelry. A quick trip to the local village shops and we were able to put together a small collection of Maharashtrian style jewelry -a cord type choker necklace, a beaded nath (nose-ring), some bobby pins, and an amboda (hair piece). Grandma was now all set.

The day of the performance arrived. Since morning there was just talk about the performance. Even the little ones knew something was up, since it didn't just feel like a regular day.

Then it was time to get ready. Grandma wore some make up for the very first time. The navvari was dorned. The amboda was tightly secured. The chandra-bindu  (moon-shaped dot) was placed on her forehead. The transformation was complete.The rest of her friends arrived home too. They fixed each others navvaris. They adjusted each others jewelry. Like excited little children, they admired each other and seeked approval and reassurance that they each looked fine.

Soon they were on their way to the performance. The air was filled with excitement! There were women dressed up in their traditional finery. There were more navvari clad grand-moms. Also some younger women too.The show was very well received. The audience was mostly family members cheering on their own home-grown performers.

The Golden Girls were of course delightful. Our Grandma included! As I watched them, I thought to myself how important this was. To have a community that one could perform for. To be heard and appreciated. To have the support of family and friends. To celebrate the traditional songs of a culture. To share all that excitement with the children.

So as I watched the show along with my family, there was one word that came to my mind. The word was "youthfulness". And while youthfulness is often spoken about the young, today it belonged to the Golden Girls!

Friday, 24 January 2014


She mixes the colors
With the air of a maestro
I bring out my stencils
To show her a design
She rejects it quite promptly
And says "I'll show you how it's done"!

Colour after colour
Gets dumped one on upon another
She scoops up the sides
Pours down the middle
Creating a little pile
With all sorts of hues
Of Green, White and Purple,
Some Reds and some Blues too.

Soon I can't tell
The colors apart
As they all blend together
To make the color Black.
Is it a mountain? A volcano? A cake?
Is that even important? I begin to wonder..

For she creates with exuberance
With playfulness and delight
With no preconceived notions
No designs and no plans.

But perhaps I am wrong.

May be she does know
Exactly what she's making
But also seems to know
That not everything needs a name

So I watch in silence
Soaking up the sight
And before I can ask her,
Anything at all..
She gets up
And dusts herself off!

With a smile on her face,
And pride in her voice
She asks me a simple question
"Amma!Isn't it beautiful?"


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Working moms!

This post was inspired from a question on one of the Facebook Groups that I am part of on the topic of "Gypsies". The following pictures were clicked from my balcony. While I am no anthropologist, I am going to make an educated guess that these people are a nomadic tribe. This guess comes from observations over quite a few months as to how methodically these guys have their system and process in place. They load everything up on horses. They have baskets to carry their chickens, they have a dog that watches over the sheep and goats. The women folk do most of the chores. They fetch water, cook and carry the firewood. The men stand around, chat and occasionally seem to herd the livestock . I got some comments from the Hubs on how lucky I was to have him when I mentioned this. Point duely noted:)

Some of the adults and kids wear western clothes (pants, shirts) but the women folk seem to be primarily in traditional clothes. There seem to be 4 families in all. Two have infants. The women breastfeed them, bathe them, and swing them in makeshift swings and protect them from the elements in quickly put-together tents made of sheets and sticks. The efficiency of it all is mind blowing indeed!

The children are obviously not in any kind of school. However they seem to pitch in with the foraging and caring for the younger siblings. They also help with dishes and generally seem to play with each other. They are obviously learning important life skills. Since they are just watching the grown-ups around them and spending their time joining in on the myriad of tasks that they need to do to get through the day.

This traveling community comes on and off to this plot of land. They sometimes stay for a night. Sometimes for a week. When they are done, they just pack up everything on their horses. Children, chickens, dog and even baby goats get put into the baskets and loaded on. They come quietly. They leave usually at sunset with quite some fanfare since the goats all bleat together as they get herded. It's actually quite exciting to watch them leave.

It has been a real treat watching them as they go about their life. As I go about mine. Sometimes hanging clothes in my balcony with my kids. Sometimes to just get a breath of air if we haven't managed to head outside already. And sometimes to show Gingy the animals from the balcony. Their arrival leads to much excitement from the girls. Gingy loves to point to the sheep and says "buh-buh-buh". Bebu loves to talk about horses and  how the families live off the land. She counted them today and came up with the number 4. And then wanted to learn to click pictures with the SLR.  She managed to look through the lens to spot the "aunty in the green saree" and then wanted to just climb onto the sill and watch.

 The womenfolk doing the chores.

 The woman in the bottom most corner picture has an infant on her lap. The white horse was named Twilight by Bebu.

 Bebu enjoyed watching the horse get a drink.

 An infant sleeps in the makeshift cradle. The families on the plot of land against the high-rise buildings.

Two separate worlds indeed. Within our same shared world. So distant in some ways, but not so distant in others.