mom of all trades

mom of all trades

Listed among the best Indian blogs by mommies

Monday, April 17, 2017

The scent of nostalgia

The faintly acidic smell of ebony colored tamarind balls speckled with shiny bits of rock salt, make my tongue pucker up in anticipation of the sour, tart sensation; as if I have sucked on a piece of tamarind. The scent of tamarind and rock salt fills me with a sense of dormant excitement, a harbinger of the exciting things that lie ahead. It transports me to the ‘kottathalam’ the huge granite floored wash area in my grandmother’s home, lined with brass utensils waiting to be scoured out with the tamarind mix, until they glisten like gold. That for me signifies the start of the festival. Next to the wash area is the mammoth kitchen, which smells of burning wood and freshly pounded masalas, from the slow cooked curries, gently simmering away on the wood fired open stoves, like a contented elderly matron.
 The night before Vishu, is a magical time when the puja room in my grandmother’s house gets transformed into an ethereal space, filled with brocades and antique brass ware. The scent of fresh jasmine garlands and wreaths of golden hued ‘konna’ flowers hang heavily in the air, mixed with sandalwood scented incense and burning, oil soaked, plump cotton wicks. It is this scent which permeates our senses first, even as we falter in blindfolded, with clumsy steps, like a baby learning to walk; unsure of where to put its foot next. It somehow make the whole experience of actually seeing the beautiful arrangement of flowers, fruits, the deity adorned in brocade and bathed in a celestial amber light from the flickering lamps, more pleasurable; much like how eating a meal off delicate porcelain china, enhances the taste and the overall experience of the meal. 

The much awaited' kaineetam'*, brings with it, the scent of crisp, freshly minted currency ,which are doled out by benevolent relatives. Most childhood festival memories in my mind, feature my grandmother; with her gossamer thin muslin ‘ mundu veshti’* that smells of starch and buttery, mellow sunshine and soft skin which smells of Nivea cream and floral scented talcum powder, always ready to pamper us with gifts and time in equal measure.
Scents and odors, they say travel right up to the emotional or memory making part of your brain and words find their way up to the thinking parts. For me, it combines to turn an experience into a beautiful memory, to last a life time.
* Kaineetam:The popular tradition of elders giving money to younger ones or dependents of the family.

Friday, January 6, 2017

This is it --- Musings, as we embark on another trip around the sun.

The majestic copper pod tree, with its golden yellow and amber tinted flowers, framed by the windows, formed a living tapestry on my bedroom wall. The ground around the tree would almost always be carpeted with fallen yellow flowers; like a pool of liquid sunshine.

 At times, as I go about my day, putting away freshly laundered clothes, burying my face in it for a moment and taking in the scent of old sunshine and starch, I catch a glimpse of the tree, now shorn of all its adornment, gently reminding me that winter is on its way. At other times as I steal some moments, to tryst with my thoughts, curled up on the couch next to the window, the tree quivers in a gentle breeze and I see tiny buds sprouting up in preparation for spring. To me, the tree is a silent reminder of the seasons slipping off like pearls, from the thread of time.

So it seems to me a cruel twist of irony, that this tree with the brilliant yellow flowers which had so firmly planted itself as part of my daily life, should meet its end at the hands of another flower.
‘Vardah*‘ or the red rose, that wrecked havoc over Tamilnadu and gave us a whiff of what terror feels like, plucked   off my copper pod tree like a jasmine bud from a bower.  My eyes still keep  returning  to that spot where the tree stood, muddled  for a moment to see the vacant space, before the painful prick of reality sinks in, much like a person who has shaved her long locks off   keeps reaching for the hairbrush, to brush the nonexistent locks. Impermanence seems to me, a grey hooded sorcerer, who can change the world as we know it, with a wave of his mystical wand.  

I have often found that most of the unresolved questions in our lives, which often hover on self pity (why did this happen to me?) tend to be like, being spoken to in a foreign tongue. You can only respond after you have mastered /translated the language; the same way the answers will appear before you, when you are ready to see them in the light of your age earned wisdom.

‘Wabi-sabi’,the beautiful Japanese concept of finding beauty in imperfection and accepting impermanence, seems to me deceptively simple yet extremely difficult to follow in our daily lives.

 The act of being fully present in the moment and living it for what it is and not how we wish it would be, seems to me a lofty task. The opposite of inattention seems to be love, for I find that I can easily pay attention to something/ someone if love is involved. It does not require much effort from my part to be fully present, to be mindful.

 So then, this is it. This moment is all that we have. Everything else, the flowers and trees, our feelings and  priorities, our grudges and agonies, the look in  our  child’s eye, even  life as we know it today, are temporary.

 This new year, let us  get lost in little moments of mindfulness, pay close attention to our loved ones and keep an open heart; who knows, we may even find ourselves and each other in the process.

Happy New Year!