A hundred years


I am filling up an online form. When I am filling in the date, I accidentally type the year 1919 instead of 2019.

One typo error and my mind travels back in time to a hundred years ago. I wonder what the world would have been like at that time. Then I think about my family. My grandmom would have been a little girl of about nine. Slightly older than one of her great- grandsons is now.

My grandmom had eleven siblings. She was the ninth child. When my siblings and I were kids, we would badger our grandmom to tell us stories about her childhood. She would talk about her marriage to my granddad and the grand celebrations in their village to mark the occasion.

When my grandma was in pigtails and ribbons, the world was at war. Between the two wars, she grew into a beautiful young woman, got married and had her children.

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We always lived in a joint family, and I can still remember how active my grandmom always was – right from sunrise to sundown. The kitchen was her realm, and her energy flowed from there in the form of love, cooking and chiding.

Every morning, for as long as she was active, my grandmom would finish her morning chores and rush to the temple to pray. On her way back, she would stop to buy vegetables and fruits. If she was planning on buying a lot, she would ask one of us, her grandchildren, to be on the lookout from the top of the hill where we lived. When we would see her at the bottom of the hill, we would skip down to help her carry the heavy bags home.

The moment we got home, she would give us candies that she had bought for us – in small brown paper pouches – lemon, orange and raspberry flavoured.

Time flew past, and we grew, went to high school and college. Each time we came home for vacation, we realized that our busy grandmom had aged just a little more than the last time we had seen her. When she was in her mid-seventies, she retired from her domestic world, handing over the reins to the next generation.

She spent her time reading books, or meditating or praying. She would watch some television on and off. But her eyes would light up the moment any of us went and sat next to her, to talk to her. She would ask us questions about our lives and hold our hands in her small wrinkled palms, demonstrating her love, without saying much.

My dad would come home every evening from work, have his shower and dinner, and sit down with his mom, asking about her health, her cough and about her day. He would lovingly bring her dinner, a glass of water, and her medicines, every night.

Our grandma always had a ready stock of mint lozenges that she ate to soothe her throat. She stored these in a small pouch. One of the highlights of the day was when she would call us and give us these lozenges to eat. She would break them up and give us just a small bit. We cherished both the lozenges and the love behind them.

It is 2019. A hundred years have flown by, since a small girl grew up in a time before ours, and became our grandmom. And now, our parents are at that age, vulnerable and frail.

Where did time fly? When did we become this responsible?

It is literally as if someone changed 1919 to 2019 with the mere flick of a button – a hundred years, four generations, lovely memories and the relentless onslaught of time.

Mom’s kitchen


The kids are back from school. The humidity is killing, and they look visibly relieved to be back in the cool confines of our home. I get started with preparations to make dosa, a South Indian delicacy that lends itself to many variants.

As I stir the batter and spread it on the tawa, my daughter comes in to the kitchen after her shower. She sniffs and says, “Hmmmm…this smells so good. It smells like grandma’s kitchen.”

I smile. As she eats the crisp, golden dosa with chutney powder, I am transported to my childhood home, and to my mom’s kitchen.

In many ways, the kitchen was the nerve centre of our home. It was rectangular in shape. The cooking range was at one end, while the dining table was at the other end. A square window lit the dining area from 11 am in the morning to mid-afternoon.

Our kitchen was colour coordinated. I remember a red phase and a blue phase. The dining table had an assortment of home-made pickles.

There was always a buzz in the kitchen. With a joint family, there was always something being prepared. We came home from school to the aroma of filter coffee, and dosas with sambhar, or bajjis or some other snack wafting through the air.


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I spent a lot of time doing Math at the dining table. The radio blared in the background as I tried to solve equations!

My mom would walk between the stove and the table at least a zillion times each day, always cheerful and busy. 

When  all of us sat down to have dinner, even after our plates were dry, we would linger on, either sharing how our day went, or singing or listening to my Dad sharing snippets from his day.

Televesion soaps had not invaded our lives then. We would all listen to the news on the radio, and then head back to our rooms to study or squabble with our siblings, or chit chat with our grandma and aunt.

Truly, the smells of my mom’s kitchen were delicious and filled with love, happiness and bonding.

Coffee, me, myself Part II – Enter the dragon


I have to warn you that if you want to drop by at our home between 7 am and 8 am on a weekday morning, you may not meet me but a fire-spewing dragon.

I am a night owl, and when the Sun actually rises, it is still midnight in night owl world.  Imagine being forced to wake up at midnight every morning to send your children to school.Featured image

The strong filter coffee jolts me awake. With my hair tied up in a grim knot, I am ready to take on this mad hour in my kitchen. My brain is processing four completely asymptotic threads of activity.  Within the next 60 minutes I have to process six different lunch & snack boxes in various combinations to meet individual requirements. The four burners on my hob are working full steam, now cooking, now boiling, now frying.  I am like an octopus, my hands moving with precision, stirring the contents of one pan &  tossing another. All it takes is one moment of inattention and the dosa is burnt, sugar goes in where salt should have gone….you get the picture?

Sounds from elsewhere in the house indicate that the children are awake and fighting over that most precious morning resource – the bathroom. Suddenly the tenor of those voices change….there is a full blown pillow fight. I reduce the flame to simmer on all burners and run to play referee. I moderate and resolve. I am rewarded with two titles simultaneously, ‘mean mom’ and ‘best mom’. The burning smell from the kitchen has me sprinting…not too much damage, thankfully.

Breakfast, lunch and snack items are produced and stacked on the kitchen counter.  I carefully check if I have colour coordinated the hand towels with the right boxes. No pinks and girly colours for my boy.The kitchen looks like a gale just blew through it. Water bottles are filled and I look at the clock. 7.55 am….Phew!

My son walks in at that precise moment with a wail, “Mom, I need 10 pictures of vehicles for a class project.”

I yell at no one in particular, “This is the icing on the cake”. 


I shoot off prints and cut the pictures & hand them to my son. My body is now emitting steam. 

The children start their breakfast. My son positions his book where his plate should be; his hand moves at a weird angle to shove food into his mouth. My daughter’s hand has paused midway to her mouth as her eyes devour the book she is reading. I let out another volley of ‘mom-pletives’ and the pace of breakfast consumption improves. This is followed by another round of yelling to ensure that the kids have remembered to take all their stuff.  In all this chaos, my husband remains calm, focused on the newspaper, totally oblivious to the mad household erupting all around him.  Finally everybody is ready. I let out a huge sigh of steam as each member leaves the house.


 I have the feeling of having completed a high-intensity cardio workout. Wonder why the weighing scale shows no change ?