Tracing the family tree


The afternoon sun streams through the grilled window, forming a golden criss cross on the mosaic floor.

In one corner of the room, I sit with my father in law. We are staring intently at the computer, as we try to bring some semblance of structure to our family history and family tree.

My father-in-law embarked on this project a couple of years ago – collecting bits of information and family stories, pulling out faded books from his childhood and patiently transcribing family diaries and notebooks that were passed on to him by his older siblings. Thus began a journey of discovery that traced our family’s history to about a couple of hundred years ago.

Image courtesy – Clipart Panda

Snatches of interesting incidents that have been passed on orally – stories that are being repeated to this very day, when the family gets together.

The family tree is wide, long and deep. The roots were dropped in a small village in South India. Today the branches have spread around the world – children, grandchildren, great grand children.

In some places the trail runs cold, we don’t know what happened to certain branches of the family.

I am helping my father-in-law transfer and structure the content on Powerpoint, so that he can share it with other family members.

I smile, as I type and make charts. My father-in-law marvels at what technology can do. I am more impressed by our family history.

There are hundreds of people, who had dreams, lived their lives in the ancestral village – their children then moving out for better prospects, carrying their rich culture, tradition and family memories with them to different corners of the world.

My father-in-law is more focussed on getting the flow chart right, he checks and double checks the threads that go down and connect the family. I am amazed by the fact that each box represents the life of an ancestor – a life lived, many stories told, many new branches created.

At the end of the family tree, the names of our family (my husband,children and me get added) – my husband is the youngest in his family, so we are ‘that’ last box on the chart.

I realize that we are not a small independent family, but a family backed by deep roots, wonderful ancestors, thrilling stories and lots of love.

The document finally gets done. My father in law is happy, I am happier!

Welcome to my Golu (Doll display)


The last week has been so crazy, in a wonderfully beautiful way, as we celebrate one of the nicest festivals in India – Navratri.

Navratri means ‘nine nights’. While there is a lot of spiritual meaning to this festival, these nine days in most Indian  homes spell joy, fun, food, music and dance, and of course a lot of camaraderie and bonding, not to forget all the vibrant and colourful sarees.

So,  that was why I was MIA from blogosphere this week. The festival is nearly done, and I am back.

People from our community celebrate Navratri in a unique way! We put up a display of dolls (yes, dolls). Dolls that have been passed down from our ancestors, dolls that we have collected over the years, dolls of every possible type.

These dolls are arranged on steps (these stands can be assembled). The stand is then covered with a cloth and serial lights put on them.  On the eve of Navratri, the dolls are brought down from storage and put on display.

I have a few hundred dolls, mostly terracota dolls. Once we set up the dolls, we invite friends home to see the display and have food.  I had a lot of friends visiting this week, and had lots of fun.

One of the most important dolls in the Golu (doll display) is the ‘Marapaachi’ doll. These dolls are made of wood, and passed down from generation to generation. These dolls usually come in couples, man and woman, boy and girl.

We dress them up in different costumes, every year. Each year we add new doll sets to our collection. Over my next few posts, I will share pictures of a few special doll sets that I have at home and the story behind them.

This is a picture of my Golu. With new dolls, my Golu is expanding horizontally as well.  Below the picture of my Golu is the picture of the ‘Marapaachi’ dolls, that have been handed down in the family.

Each doll is special, each doll has a story and so many associated memories. I love my dolls, each and every one of them.

image

        Main Golu, Sections 1, 2, 3 & 4

image

                      The Main Golu

image

                 Section 2 of my Golu

image

             Section 5 of my Golu

image

The Marapaachis – handed down from generation to generation.

Hope you enjoyed these pictures. Over the next few posts, I will talk about my favourite dolls and their stories.

I look forward to catching up on all your blogs too!

Handing down love


My son turned 13 today and in keeping with our family tradition, I asked him to meet me in my room after dinner.

Curiosity was evident in his eyes,  but he merely nodded. My wife and I had gifted him a course in kayaking. There was also a glint of excitement in his eyes, as he probably expected another surprise birthday present.

He walked into my room, with me,  after dinner. With great ceremony, I opened the drawer on my table. I took out a small gift wrapped package and gave it to him.

He opened it with a lot of excitement. I could see his face falling, when he saw that it was an old, battered geometry box. There was a letter taped to the bottom of the box.

He looked at me, quite puzzled, waiting for an explanation.

I told him, “Open the letter.”

The letter ran into many pages. I told him to start reading from the last letter, dated 24th August, 1919, written by my great great grandfather to his son, on his thirteenth birthday.

My son quietly read all the letters, letters written by many fathers to many sons, to their sons. Nearly a century of family love there. Some letters were humourous, some were filled with love, some with dos and don’ts.  But a great archive of our family’s history, its shared love, and a wonderful tradition. He finally came to my letter and read it.

He looked up, and asked, “But why the geometry box?”

“Oh, the geometry box was probably handy, when my great great grandpa wanted to get this going,  what he also did was inscribe his name at the bottom of the box, with the date”, I said.

My son flipped the box and saw the metal engravings of his ancestors and laughed when he saw my name.

I also added, “The instruments in the set can be used even now. They are of excellent quality. After you are done with it, inscribe your name and pass it on to your son.”

He took his gift and walked out of the room. I know for a fact that 25 years from now, his throat will catch the way mine is now, when he writes a letter to his son, and wishes him well.