Three long years


It’s been three years since we travelled to meet our family. Three years where family emotions and bonds ran on the fuel of video calls and texts, spilling laughter and many tears along the way.

We are finally here, at home, reunited with parents and siblings, nieces and nephews.

We visit all the rooms in our home, reacquainting ourselves with the simple yet delightful pleasures of the smells, the shapes and the textures of its various nooks and corners.

There is a big void in my father-in-law’s room. It feels strange that he is no longer a part of our lives, regaling his grandchildren with humourous anecdotes and keeping them entertained with many stories. A small smile plays on his lips as he observes us now from the confines of a photo frame.

The aroma of shallot sambhar flirts with our nostrils, as super soft idlis get steamed in the kitchen. My husband steps out of the house and comes back in a few minutes with piping hot, golden and crisp medu vadas that have been fried to perfection. The vadas rest on a square piece of banana leaf and are accompanied by a generous helping of coconut chutney.

These vadas have been an integral part of our breakfast ritual over the years on all our trips back home, lovingly carried out by my father-in-law. As we tuck-in, we feel his presence and hear his voice asking us to eat more.

So much has changed over the last three years, yet some things don’t seem to have changed – giving us hope for the future while still connecting us to the wonderful memories of the past.

Oil Baths


Each of us has special memories of our growing up years – and as we plod through our lives now, we do remember those days, when life was so simple and uncomplicated.

One of the most wonderful memories I have is about a ritual that our family followed on Sundays. Most people in our part of the world probably had the same ritual too.

Sundays were ‘oil bath’ days. The day went something like this. We woke up at 7 a.m. and had a light breakfast. After this, my siblings and I would sit on a straw mat on the floor. Our mom would then warm oil in a small wok, to which basil leaves, pepper corn, raw rice, hibiscus flowers etc were added.

Once the oil was warm enough to say ouch! when it touched the palm of your hand, the oil massage would start.

As our mom massaged our scalps with warm oil, our whole body would relax, and eyes automatically close – it was pure bliss. Our hands, legs and faces were also massaged with oil.

We had some old frocks that we wore for this activity. We were asked to soak- in the oil for a good 45 minutes. So, during this time we sat and played all kinds of word games.

We took turns to have our baths in hot water, washing away the oil with heavenly-smelling shikakai powder.

Once all the kids were done, the adults did the same.

Oil bath days had special menus, and the food was served piping hot. The whole family would sit and eat together.

After the heavy meal, my Dad would play 70s music; the deep voices of the singers lulling us into sleep.

We would wake up refreshed and relaxed, ready to have some hot cocoa or if we were lucky, a little cup of coffee.

Oil bath days were so special. They rejuvenated our minds and bodies, and also strengthened family bonds.