Sisters


It is noon, and I am in a cab. My destination is twenty minutes away, and the first thing I do is pick up my phone and call one of my sisters. Her line is busy, and I call the other sister. She picks up my call, and we start chatting.

We exchange family stories, talk about her children, my children, work, life goals, health goals, wardrobes, new products, photos that we sent to each other, accessories, and then get back to more family trivia.

Soon, my cab reaches the destination, and I bid a cheery bye to my sister and get back to my own world; with a broad smile on my face and a spring in my step – for that’s what sisters do to you.

Image courtesy – http://www.123RF.com

You can laugh with them, cry with them, be annoyed with them or argue with them, for they will not judge you for any of it.

Last month, when we were out for dinner with my sister’s family, I eyed the beautiful handbag she was carrying and raved about it. “You can have it”, she said. And with no guilt whatsoever, I took the bag, gave back its contents in a small plastic bag, and became the proud owner of my sister’s handbag.

And that’s just one of the million reasons why sisters are special. You can call them at midnight to discuss even simple absurdities, and they will think nothing of it.

In our home, I have one wardrobe, and two extended wardrobes that belong to my sisters, and which I have unlimited access to. And they have the same access to mine.

A sister has shared all the silliness and giggly moments in your childhood with you. One of the fondest memories I have is of how my sister would come back from kindergarten (I had not yet started school then), and would always remember to bring a butter biscuit back for me, an extra biscuit that she had received for answering questions correctly in class.

A sister may squabble and annoy and drive you crazy within the four walls of your home, but to anyone who troubles you outside home, she is a force to be reckoned with.

A sister will tell you things about yourself that you may not like to hear; but then she will be the one you turn to when you have even the smallest problem, or when you just want to rant.

Sisters fill your life with sunshine, and are a 24 x 7 support hotline. They enrich your life, and make you laugh, make you cry, and argue with you.

But whenever I have a free moment, my first choice will always be to pick up the phone to call my sisters.

Home garden


There is something so beautiful about having plants at home, especially when there is no space for a huge garden.

My husband’s mom talks about how green the area had been, when she and my father in law had moved into their new home after marriage. More than five decades have rolled by, and there are buildings everywhere. My mom-in-law loves and nurtures all her plants.

There are two beautiful Magnolia campaca trees at the entrance of the house. One of them yields fragrant, creamy-yellow flowers. Their trunks have grown with our home – spreading out branches, sprouting leaves, blooming flowers and watching over the goings-on in the neighbourhood.

There are many potted plants, hibiscus, sweet pea, star jasmine, creepers, tulasi, curry leaves, green chilli and coriander. As I walk around the compound, I enjoy the mid-morning breeze, as the clothes on the clotheslines flutter in unison.

The leaves of the hibiscus plant are a deep, shiny green. There is a beautiful bud, waiting for the right time to bloom.

Just above the hibiscus plant is the Ixora coccinea plant, a shrub commonly found in the region. The bright orangeish-red flowers are a treat to the eyes. I call them ‘drops of sunshine’.

One of the branches has two bud clusters that look identical. They look like sisters….sharing some childhood time, laughing merrily, gossiping with each other, and swaying in the breeze, little knowing that they may each bloom differently.

There is a strange peace that comes in watching the champak tree. The clear blue of the sky can be seen through its leaves, as a crow caws lazily in the background.

There is a joy in watering the plants, and watching the soil soak it all in.

There is peace. Everything is just as it should be.

Shopping, paranthas & peace


My sister and I are out shopping. There is no specific shopping list; we are willing to buy anything that grabs our attention. Read – ‘as many shops as we can visit in one afternoon’.

Our children are with their grandmom, and we don’t feel any guilt. We wave cheery byes to our children, who are oblivious to our departure. They are enjoying junk food, and reveling in the joy of being totally spoiled by their grandmom.

We drive down to one of our favourite malls. We drive each other nuts by trying on hundreds of clothes, doing catwalks for each other; all the while catching up on family gossip, children, motherhood and other silly things that sisters talk about.

We reach a point where our arms hurt from all that exertion. We buy 2% of what we tried, but the satisfaction is enormous.

We need coffee. We need something to eat. And then, we find this small restaurant that has a skylight, and has huge stone slabs and steps that serve as tables and chairs. Multi-coloured cushions languish on various stones. Trees give us company. We order hot aloo paranthas and coffee. As we wait for the food, we soak in this place, this slice of heaven. Where, unbeknowst to ourselves, we’ve stopped talking.

We are immersed in our own thoughts. Life seems so simple and so uncomplicated in this quadrangle. A lazy bird chirps above us. Ants are busily climbing the walls.

Our food arrives. We relish it in silence. We are loathe to leave this peace, but real life beckons. We step out into the world, where people are rushing, vehicles are moving – nobody stops or pauses even for a second.

Candy fight


Last weekend, my husband and I had gone out to lunch at an Indian restaurant in our neighbourhood. In most Indian restaurants, sugar-coated fennel seeds, cumin seeds and sugar candy are usually served after lunch, as mouth fresheners.  As I chewed on the cumin seeds, my thoughts flew back to my childhood.

While we were growing up, there were some yummy candies and sweets, which we usually bought on the weekend.

There was Egg Candy, named so because it looked like an egg. The candy was so big that once you popped one into your mouth, you couldn’t talk for a while. The other was what we called ‘Kamarkat’, made of jaggery and peanuts.

However, one of the more popular ones was the ‘Jeeraga Mittai’ or Cumin Candy, which was cumin seeds individually dipped in coloured sugar, to make millions of colourful, tasty beads.

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        Courtesy – http://www.thehindu.com

These candies were usually sold in packets of 100 gms or 50 gms.

When I was in class 2, one evening, as my sister and I walked home from school, my sister showed me a gift given to her by her teacher for having aced her spelling test.  The gift was a colourful fish-shaped box that was packed to the brim with colourful bits of Cumin Candy.

My eyes grew big as I saw the fish box. It was made of coloured plastic that looked like stained glass. It was so beautiful!

I asked my sister if she would share it with me. But she quickly tucked it away. I tried my best to get it from her. We ‘struggled’ our way back home; my sister defending her treasure, and I, focussed on snatching it away.

She was taller than I, and kept waving it out of reach. Finally, when I could take it no more, I struck her hard. She complained to my parents, and I was ticked off.

My heart pined, not for the candy but for the box. I wished fervently that my teacher would give out such gifts. The candy box consumed my thoughts that whole week. Later, my sister relented and gave me some candy, but I wanted only the box.

After about a week, when my Dad came back from his Sunday vegetable shopping, he called out to me.  He had bought a candy box for me. It was the most beautiful butterfly ever.

I treasured it for a long time.

The Tar Baby and A Big Sister


Many, many years ago, when I was in high school, my little sister was in primary school.

Those days, we lived in an apartment block that had a coating of tar on the roof.  That year, all the apartments were given a coat of paint, and the roofs, a makeover.

When the workmen left, some tar was left on the ledge above our porch.  The ledge had a drain pipe to drain rain water. It was a particularly hot summer that year, and the leftover tar melted and dripped out through the drainpipe.

Unfortunately for my little sister, she ran out just when a particularly long thread of melted tar was coming out; and it fell plop, right on the middle of her head.

The poor thing was horrified, and came rushing into the house, crying.

My parents were out, and I, the big sister, was in charge. After giving her some candy, I took matters into my own hands. I sat her down on a chair, wrapped a towel around her shoulders, kept some newspaper on the ground, and with a pair of scissors, I snipped away. First, I chopped off the huge blob of ‘tar stuck’ hair. Then all around the area, wherever I could see even a small bit of tar.

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      Image courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

While the tar was completely removed, what was left of my sister’s hair looked horrible. There was long hair in places and then clumps of short hair, where I had worked my magic.

The poor thing was hysteric when she saw herself in the mirror. I dreaded my mom’s arrival.

My mom was mad at me, needless to say, though she was happy that I had managed to get the tar out.

Then, it was a trip to the hairdressers. I went along, if only to assuage my guilt. The hairdresser said that she had to cut my sister’s hair to the height of the little clumps that I had carved on her head. So, my sister’s hair was almost razed to the scalp; and she went around looking like a coconut for a few days.

It was a sensitive topic at home for a while. Now, we laugh about it when we look back!

Superhero saves the planet


When my daughter was born, life was different shades of pink. From pretty frocks to hair bands to pretty bonnets, pink ruled our lives.

With doll houses and dainty Barbies dotting our play room, little did we realize that all this was about to change, when our son was born.

The landscape now had pink oases of Barbies interspersed with metal planes, Transformers, cars and vehicles and plenty of dinosaurs roaming the terrain.

My son was in a perpetual state of motion – flying planes, fighting imaginary warriors and as a super hero, fighting hard to save the world.

A funny incident, related to this, comes to my mind.

The kids had their summer break and kept busy with their toys and games.  One of my daughter’s Barbie dolls had fallen into some wet paint, and so, had been washed and put to dry between the grills of the balcony.

Two of my son’s friends had come over to play and the boys were busy role-playing, as they spun webs, fought with plastic swords and ran about.

My son’s eyes fell on the Barbie. I was very curious to see him staring at it. He  called out in one of his super hero voices to his friends, “Come and see what I found!”

“We have found the enemy. Let’s capture her and save our planet.”

The innocent Barbie was whisked away and thrown under the cot, relegated to the darkness there.

Atleast, till his sister came to know about the incident. And then, all hell broke loose.