The Aladdin's Cave

Hi, thanks for stopping by! The dictionary defines the idiom “The Aladdin’s Cave” as “a collection of interesting and beautiful objects”. Likewise, my website is a potpourri where you can browse and read from a variegated collection of articles on sundry subjects. Be prepared to stumble upon pieces ranging from noodles to analytics and from novels to friendships. Like what you read? Thanks a ton for being such a sweetheart. Don’t find it up to the mark? Well, blame it on back-breaking expectations ;) Jolly Reading!

Month: May 2010

The Good, Old Mays…(Part-II)

This post is a continuance of The Good Old Mays…(Part-I)
Sorry for the unceremonious ending of the previous part. I hope you can pardon such an indecorum on the part of a nine-post old blogger!
OK..so picking up from where I left..

My mom and us two sisters used to spend part of the summer vacation at my nana-nani’s (maternal grandparents) place and my aunt and two of my cousin sisters would also join us there for the vacation. This was one of the major highlights of our holidays and we really looked forward to it. We four girls would be glued to each other and what fun we had! Doll-weddings, needle work, cribbing and doing homeworks, reading and narrating stories, playing games, sharing candies and chocolates, watching TV, being treated to ice-creams and kulfis and the special “Holiday” menu…year after year, we shared these days and thus ended up becoming the closest of sisters who still share such a special bond!

During this long vacation, it was only natural and fitting that we should miss our school friends but then we had our own special set of summer friends eagerly waiting for us in all the comics and story books! Chacha Chaudhary, Saabu, Pinkie, Tinkle, Champak, Tintin, Calvin and Hobbes…Just loved the whole lot! (Actually, still do!) You could while away the hours, lapping up the plethora of interesting stories that they collectively offered. You could just enjoy the read but if your imagination was wild enough, you were free to accompany one or more of those characters on their adventures and help them figure out ways to get out of the soup (as a rule, all these folks had a penchant to land into one ever so often!). And if you were in the mood for some real thrill, you could even decide to get in the driver’s seat and let the (ex-) protagonist be your sidekick!

A post about those days can never be complete without mentioning the innumerable games that we played! Some of them were the ancient and widely popular ones like ludo, snakes and ladders, spell-bound, kitchen set, doctor set, lock and key, name-place-thing-animal, “pitto”, “kabaddi”, hide and seek….and then you could improvise too!  The next few lines may appear very silly to you but you won’t know what fun it is till you’ve tried it!
OK, so at the risk of soundind extremely stupid, let me tell you about this very innovative game that my sister and me enjoyed so so much. It was named “kathin raasta” (tortuous terrain!). We would run all around, pretending to be traversing forests, rivers, mountains and deserts. My di would lead, doing running commentary to warn me of the impending danger and I would follow her religiously – not missing a single turn or bend or leap! Ya ya, i know it sounds silly but take it from me, there was superb coordination between the two of us and it superb fun!!

The only moderator for our high spirits was the sight of the school diary because in that was penned down the long and rueful list of “Holiday Homework” (H.H.W). Not a single subject was missed. No such stroke of luck. Mathematical problems, essays (and “nibandhs”), using pencil shavings to make an owl, filling countless pages of writing books in the hope of seeing some improvement in handwritings (didn’t really work for me :[ ),  learning the history and geography of India and the world by rote, developing familiarity with the plant and the animal world, understanding the sciences and forces operating behind practically everything that happens and a lot more – you were expected to master all this and be prepared to put your knowledge to test (quite literally) post the vacation. But to be honest, not all of it was detestable and then there was ample amount of time to whine and complain while working so you could complete it eventually. Not much in advance though – we all know how ten percent of a task is completed in ninety percent of the time and the rest ninety percent is somehow squeezed in the remaining ten percent of the time (:-P) Nevertheless, the purport of making the homework double as a killjoy failed miserably because we all know that there is no dampener potent enough to quell that happy, carefree mood!

So these were the some of the main elements of those blissful days and my heart really yearns for them…
The memories of those days stay as fresh as ever and never fail to bring a smile to my lips. It was like festival time – lots of fun and food, endless flow of cousins and other relatives,  many many hours to be pampered by your parents and grandparents and indulging yourself in all that is merry!

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The Good, Old Mays…(Part-I)

The month of May…

It brings back the priceless memories of such blissful days. We used to have summer vacations during May and June and what fun we had! Two months of unadulterated joy!
I was hoping to immensely enjoy this last summer vacation of my life but it didn’t work out as planned and I’m stuck with my training now. There is lots to do and no matter how optimistically I think, a trip to my home doesn’t seem possible in the offing.

Consider this post to be a sorry attempt to recapture some of the key factors that made these two months such a favorite with all us children. I call it a sorry attempt because no number of words and posts can do justice to the memories of those joyful days. Yet, i wistfully try…

First, about the week just before the holidays began…

The teachers used to get busy competing with each other, as to who can give the longest list of holiday homeworks and we children? Oh, we would be too busy making “Happy Holidays” cards to worry about it then. The newfangled e-cards are great – I, myself, being a proponent of 123greetings.com (:-P) but they come nowhere close to the fun and excitement we found in making those scores of holiday cards in school. Our creativity was pushed to the hilt. Papers, colors, scissors and all the paraphernalia related to card-making flew all around. They came in all shapes, sizes, color and quality (quite literally!) But it’s not as if you could simply pick up any one you  liked…No dear. Not so simple. There was a very complex priority order that had to be adhered to. And if you were to digress, matters could get really, really complicated. But we were all pros there! So generally, no such sentimental mayhems preceded the holidays. As a rule, the best of the lot was for your best-friend (you could even let her choose!), then came your favorite teacher, then your lunch-friends, then other friends, then other teachers, then classmates, then bus-friends…This is a generic picture…you could change the order a little…(really, it wasn’t that complicated either-we followed it quite effortlessly!)

Summer vacation was synonymous with so many lovable things…and one of them were Mangoes! Pulpy, juicy, luscious mangoes!! 🙂 How we loved feasting on them…

They say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” I say, “Too bad, but I’m still thankful…’cuz mangoes do!” 🙂

Rightly crowned as the king of fruits, it used to be our staple diet for the vacation. Lichis, oranges and the throng of melons followed but mangoes beat them all by huge margins!

My cutest papa would get cartons and cartons of the best ones and stock the larder but the plenitude of mangoes was never an overwhelming issue for us. All of us used to rise up to the occasion and amongst us, handled the issue quite efficiently. Mangoes, mango shakes, guramma (a tangy chutney made from raw mangoes), pickles…we adeptly switched from one to another and were always ready for more! No “weighty” issues to make you feel guilty then…just slllluuurrrrrrppppppp!!! 🙂

(Sorry for the abrupt end…will wrap it up in the next post!)
To be continued…

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The Iron That Has Seen It All

This may seem an odd thing to write about but i am sure it’ll make perfect sense to the targeted group of readers viz. all my dearest hostel friends at my college VIT University, which will soon be my alma mater…(the very thought of this final goodbye is hurting like hell..)
And even if you’re not one of them, you can relate to it very well if you have been lucky enough to have spent 3-4 years of your life in a hostel and have made friends who make saying goodbye so so difficult…
So at a time like this, you can understand that there are so many people and things i want to write about. But words fall short to describe all that I’ve learnt and got in the last four years of my life. These unforgettable years have given me friends who make me feel as if I am the “Chosen One”. You don’t get luckier than this in friendship – I know this for sure!

This is a testimonial article about my iron, which has been an indispensable part of our hostel lives since the first year. It’s a simple, no-frills, elemental model from Philips. A steely base, a blue handle, a white knob, a red indicator and a white wire with a three-pin plug – that about sums it up. Told you, it’s pretty straightforward. So you might ask that what’s there in it to write about…
Well, i’ll answer that for you and then you can decide yourself if it deserves this token of thanks or not.

I am not an extrovert person and find it quite difficult to reach out to people. This simple appliance helped me during those initial days to make friends with people with whom i was later to develop a friendship for life. I used to lend it to the other girls in hostel and this got us talking. This simple need-based act paved the way for friendships that would later need no reason at all to sustain…

So all of us in our group shared this iron and everyone was fiercely protective about it too. You see, we weren’t allowed to keep these stuffs in hostel. Ask anyone who knows me really well and they’ll tell you that I am quite a law-abiding citizen but you can’t blame me for sneaking this one inside. I mean, how can you be expected to not have an iron in hostel?? It’s mindless to even think about that!
Well, so after availing its services, we used to hide it craftily under a heap of clothes or shove it in some corner or the other. It took a lot to keep it well-hidden from the watchful, scanning eyes of our wardens and supervisors who used to get a thrill out of seizing these so-called banned things. And we did quite a neat job out of it, given that it used to traverse rooms and even floors almost everyday and still managed to remain undetected!

It has been a testimony to the growth of our friendship…you could tell from the transition that took place in the way this sharing was carried out. Earlier, my friends use to message me sheepishly, asking if they could use it for a while. And after they were done, they would return it punctually, never forgetting to thank me for it.  As time passed by, it became “get the iron when you come”. Not very polite, but still, passable. The later years saw me rushing to their rooms with my rumpled clothes or meekly seeking their permission to borrow it for a while!

But most importantly, this iron of ours is entitled to this article (and much more) because it has been a participant of and a witness to the innumerable activities of the last four years which have made them so precious…the imperishable memories of our wonderful, cheerful, super-active, unimaginably enjoyable hostel life…

It saw us through the daily ironing for those killingly droning and some not so droning lectures…
It was there at our service when we got all dolled-up for those awesome treats – birthdays and anniversaries and results and commitments and siblings’ weddings and boyfriends’ accomplishments and friendships and no-reason treats…
It carefully and painstakingly ironed out each and every fold and crease and did its best to soothe our nerves on those dates, when we were oh-so-conscious…
It jumped out to us with frenzied speed (and heat) on those examination days, when our schedule used to be so over-stuffed that a mere minute or two was the max that this poor thing got to smoothen the crumpled garments…
It zealously celebrated the college-fest “Riviera” with us and helped us primp ourselves in trendy dresses, which further helped us to garner so many of those cherished pics!
It silently imparted its share of wishes and that much needed good luck charm to our formals during those anxious placement times and prayed for us…the way we did for each other…
It extended it’s ever-helpful hand (or should i say handle??) to us on our farewell day too, when we were all such a mess because we had to drape sarees and finally made us all look beautiful, gracious and lady-like…
It was there with us on those bad hair days when not a thing went right and helped us cheer up by donning some favorite t-shirt…

Ya, you got it right now!
Like my friends, who are there for me no matter what, this dear, devoted, vigilant and industrious tool has been with us through it all, seen us becoming the bestest of friends, sharing our joys and woes and never asking anything in return! Day after day, it proved itself to be a trusted friend…never betraying, never cranky, not even a bit demanding…It was just there!

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