23 June 2012

In the neighbourhood-Part 1



We have had two moves in the last two months, one from Adelaide to Bangalore and the second from my Brother in law,s home to our own.
The apartment we have taken on rent is nice. There is a play area, 24 hour guards on duty protecting our precincts and a large but not very deep swimming pool right in front of our flat, where little G spends many a blissful hour.
We are slowly getting comfortable, day after day, with the changed time zones, changed road conditions, changed environment and changed amounts of everything from people and malls to cars , bikes and mongrels.
The neighbourhood is a mix of apartment blocks, individual homes, shops of all shapes and sizes and a mix of the moneyed and less moneyed people. Interestingly the lack of money or the plentifulness of it does not show too much difference in the general mental well being of the public concerned and the slum dwellers and the others co-exist with an equanimous bonhomie. Behind our apartment complex is a row of small one room mud and brick homes with tiled roofs. The people that live in it are from a small town in Karnataka called Gulbarga,and here and there, I am told by the maid with the face splitting smile I have had the good fortune to come upon. Coming to the said maid I am filled with this happy sense of disbelief when day after day ( from the last seven days) she turns up smiling from ear to ear, reciprocated by me and cleans my dishes and vitreuos floor tiles to a mirror finish. Getting back to the stars of my present post and many more to come, the crowd that lives behind me two stories below, most possibly in a so called illegal settlement is what draws me to my balcony or kitchen window a few times every day, to watch their daily activity and complete engrossment in their tasks. Morning starts with lighting up the wood fire mud ovens, known as Choolha in hindi, which is hand made with mud and other mystery ingredients. A pot generally full of water is heated and this morning there was a large pot full of rice being cooked. At times there,s milk being boiled and doled out to the young ones in metal tumblers which they have been cupping in their eager hands as they sit waiting on their haunches for the milk to come to the boil. A young man chops wood with an axe to be burnt as fuel for the choolha. There is a dog and a cat which mingle as freely as the family and their relatives or friends that live in the other rooms. The cat is given some milk too and the dog is given other tidbits. Getting back to this post after 2.5 months. The kids now seem to have graduated to drinking tea in the mornings. Even a tiny toddler who has become G and my favourite baby seems to pull through his very full days very well on tea and various foods that look like pieces of bread to us. He has been named 'Nangu friend' by G as he,s in the habit of being less dressed usually. Other names/endearments G has found for him are, "Nangu little", "Bhustu little"( dunno what this one means, though. He is one busy little baby and he,s never found sitting around, glaring into space or sitting and looking hither and thither like the other babies of his settlement. We find him trying to wash clothes that his mother soaks in his own baby way, sometimes rubbing washing soap all over himself, trying to clamber onto his father,s bike ( we are very proud that the bub,s dad owns a bike and seems the most sober of the lot), carrying a kitten around, peering into other,s rooms, figuring out whatever anyone is upto and invariably getting a knock on the head from someone or the other. G told me a while ago, that everyone hits our nangu friend at which I kept a watch and then figured out that his neighbours expressed their fondness for him through tweaks of his cheeks, raps on his person and generally by being quite rough with the little fella. At times I could'nt resist yelling out to a few people whose raps got forceful enough to make the little fella cry. Talking of crying he is one plucky baby and does not cry easily. Sometimes he looks up at us quizzically and something interesting passes from him to us.

LINKS to Part 2 and 3- below.

In the neighbourhood-Part 2
In the neighbourhood-Part 3
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