#BlogAlong: February 2016

With all of this ignoring the blog and admitting I have a mental block plus lazy ass there has been one silver lining: my reading has gone up tremendously.

I was on an Amitav Ghosh reading spree the last few weeks. Finished books 1 and 2 of the IBIS Trilogy and just last week I finished the Hungry Tide.

Continue reading “#BlogAlong: February 2016”

#BlogAlong + Things That Defined My Growing Up Years

drumroll Aaaaaaand it’s back… the monthly #BlogAlong link up. The 3Girls thought a lot about this months topic.. a lot! There were so many ideas in our head. We wanted to celebrate the fact that each of us is in a birthday mood, as Upasna’s went by last month, and Pooja’s is just around the corner, and mine will round it off closer to the end of the month. So we wanted to have a birthday flavour to the post. We oscillated between birthday parties, birthday cake (yumm), birthday memories, and from there we went on to places you celebrated your birthday. But try as we might, we just could not zero in on any one idea.

And then we decided to have a post around memories. We talked about comfort food last month, and it was such a greedy yet nostalgic ride through the memories of home, travel and leisure. So it kind of made sense to continue the nostalgia of our last months #BlogAlong by asking all of you lovely people to share some more memories with us. Hope you don’t mind :)

This month the theme is THINGS THAT DEFINED YOUR GROWING UP YEARS. The idea behind the theme is to share the poster moments in your mind-map of your growing up years. You can take this theme and go anywhere with it. Talk about the pop songs of your childhood, the movies that drove you crazy, the fashionistas you followed, the family moments, the vacations, the games we played, school times, college times. Whatever are the things that defined your growing up years, the things that you recall as the best times of the years gone by, let’s talk about them. It could be one, it could be many.

As I was getting down to write this post, I happened to see this video that asked 3 generations what they did for fun, when they were growing up. The answers that came from the youngest generation were sad but not unexpectedly so. The grandparents talked about blueberry picking, going fishing with friends, while the parents were in raptures talking about the forts they built in their backyards, or rounding up their friends and playing hours of catch, hide’n’seek and sports. But their kids talked about video games, texting, watching videos, using their tablets, and it conveyed an overall lack of curiosity about nature, and just experiencing the physical joy of being a child. I don’t want to sound boorish but I was quite dismayed about it.

Don’t know what the future holds for the kids of tomorrow, but I really want to keep holding on to my childhood memories that are a part of me. And bore my kids with them, when I have them (the kids, not the memories).

Read on for the Things That Defined My Growing Up Years:

1. The fauji trunk

Steel Trunk
Steel Trunk

I am a fauji kid. And a proud one at that.

My dad is an officer in the Indian army (army = fauj), and I am an army kid, and the most indelible part of my childhood years has to be this important piece of luggage. As is the custom with defence families, we had to travel to new locations, or postings as we called them, every 2-3 years, and these trunks carried all our precious belongings and the assorted paraphernalia. The most exciting part of a new posting would be when we started packing up the house (I am sure my mom would not agree). I would wait for the trunks with my collection of books to be opened, and then get lost in them for the next few days. My Grimms fairy tales, the Potter series, the classics….My brother and I would also attack the ‘toy trunk’ as we called it because it had such treasures that we hadn’t seen in ages (as per us, even though it was just a year or 2 since we had seen them last).

The other thing I remember about these trunks were that before every new posting, they would be repainted and my dad’s name and rank, along with details of previous posting and the new one would be painted on. Our very own steel boarding passes or travel diary. These trunks used to be all over the house and the balcony and the garage, and for me, when I look back to my growing up years, I always remember these trunks very fondly.

2. Chacha Chaudhary

Books are probably my first childhood love. My earliest memories in life are of reading. I would read everything and anything. The first classic I fell in love with, at the age of 7, was A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. And I will never forget the first signs of empathy that stirred in my heart when Sydney Carton sacrifices himself.

However, growing up, I was obsessed with Chacha Chaudhary comics.

chacha-chaudhary-21

 

As a kid, I had the biggest collection of Chacha Chaudhary comics, I kid you not. For those of you who don’t know these comics, Chacha Chaudhary was an Indian comic legend, created by Pran. Chacha means Uncle and Chaudhary was his surname (given name). Chacha was the smartest man on the planet, and his ‘mind worked faster than a computer’  and  along with his sidekick Sabu (the man from Jupiter), used to solve problems and hunt down the bad guys. Sabu was so much fun too; every time someone made Sabu super angry, he would lose his cool and somewhere on the planet of Juipter, a volcano would erupt. Hah, what FUN!

My mom actually told me that the reason I had such brilliant Hindi speaking and writing skills at that age was because I used to devour the Chacha comics. So there you go, some good DOES come out of reading comics.

3. The Harry Potter series

How can I talk about my growing up years and not talk about the Harry Potter series, my first initiation into the world of a series of fantasy fiction and alternative realities. Of course I had read Enid Blytons Wishing Chairs, and Faraway Trees,, and then there was Tolkiens LOTR but Potter was the iconic read for me, the one that got me hooked to the whole concept of reading series and trilogies. I will never forget the memory of the first time I read it, back in 2000. And till 2007, when the Deathly Hallows came out, it was a constant companion from teendom to early adulthood.

The midnight discussions of whether Harry would survive, is Snape evil or good (I was always in his corner), are Harrys parents alive, crying my eyes out when Sirius died ( I am welling up now too).. Potter is such an important part of my growing up. And I can’t wait to share the excitement with my kids, when the time comes.

harry-potter-series-us

4. The mandatory summer vacation trip to visit grandparents

As I told you before, my dad is in the Indian Army and we would be staying in far flung places all across the length and breadth of India. But come summer vacation time, and we would pack our bags and go visit the grandparents. One trip to Delhi to meet the maternal grandfolks, one trip to Shimla to meet my massi (mom’s sister) and cousins, one trip to Yamunanagar to meet the paternal grandfolks and my chachu (dad’s younger brother).

Summer days filled with reading, eating yummy food, listening to mom, my maasi and naani (maternal grandmom) gossip, getting pampered by the grandparents… aah, those were the days.

5. Madhuri Dixit

Main Madhuri Dixit banna chahti thi. There… it’s out now. For the unintiated, Madhuri Dixit is a Bollywood star and she was gorgeous. Brilliant smile, excellent dancer, and gorgeous, she was just perfect. Still is for me!

hum-aapke-hain-kaun-star-cast-madhuri-dixit

And for those of you who don’t know Hindi, I just admitted to the whole wide word that I wanted to be Madhuri Dixit. Like totally! But so did every other girl in middle class India back then. I used to dance in front of the mirror, on her songs and copy her expressions and dance moves. Ha-uh she was perfection to me. Still is. They don’t make them like this anymore.

6. Indi-pop

‘Made in India, made in India, ek dil chahiye that’s made in India’  Alisha Chinai was da bomb back then! The 90’s had some incredible pop music by Indian artists. Okay, maybe not incredible incredible, but that’s what I remember. Songs by Alisha Chinai, Biddu, Dj Aqeel, Bally Sagoo were what we danced to in our kiddie and teen birthday parties. The music used to be so funky, and on top of that the videos were so exciting. They would feature supermodels like Milind Soman,  Arjun Rampal, Jas Arora…. sigh all those dreamboats!

This is what I am talking about (Check out at 2:26 and 3:39)

I wasn’t into international music as a teen but give me a cassette (remember those?) filled with chartbusters like Boom Boom, Gud Nalon Ishq Mitha, O Sanam and I could dance on for hours. In fact I still can :)

7. My dogs

I miss having a dog around. A big part of my growing up years was the company of my dogs. I have always had a dog in the family, from age 5 when we got our first Pixie the dachshund, till age 27, when I lost my old cutie Caesar.  These Dachshunds and Dobermans of mine were family and I miss them so. Even my grandparents had dogs so these woofy brethren of defined a big part of my growing up years. I would talk to them, confide in them, clean up after then, and in their last days have taken care of them.

My brother has a Great Dane now, Mufasa, that even I stake a claim on, but for me the childhood years were about the family dogs. And sometimes it feels that with the passing away of my Caesar, the last of my memories of my childhood went by.

IMG_20130421_113226_1

I miss having a dog around….

Phew, so my childhood was defined by pop songs, gorgeous actresses, even gorgeous supermodels, books, and dogs. And I work in IT. Haha.. If there was ever a mismatch.

Anyhow, hope you enjoyed my ramblings on The Things That Defined My Growing Up Years. Now I can’t wait to read yours. So add your post now to the monthly #BlogAlong and let’s have a party this month.

I am going to leave you with another Indi pop classic until then

This post is a part of the 3 Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up party, co-hosted by Upasna from Life On My Plate, Pooja from A Bit Of This And A Lot Of That  and Shruti from MszKnowitall. This month’s theme is  Things That Defined Your Growing Up Years  and it’s time to dig out the treasure troves of memories and iconic moments!

BlogAlong

To #BlogAlong with us, here’s what you have to do:

  1. Publish a new post or share an old post on the monthly theme
  2. Link for posting remains open from the first Sunday of the month to the following Sunday, till midnight
  3. Don’t forget to include the #BlogAlong badge in your post. In order to get the code, click on the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong image in the sidebar on my blog or here itself, and it will lead you to the image URL
  4. We would also appreciate if you link back to your hosts, and follow us too. You can find me on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter, and ofcourse on WordPress :)
  5. Join the party by clicking on the inlinkz button below any of our posts, and adding your post to the blogroll
  6. Comment on each others posts and spread the love
  7. Promote yours and others posts on social media using #BlogAlong with the 3Girls

 

How Dogs Love Us

How Dogs Love Us

I am a dog person. Always have been, and will be so for the rest of my life. And I love big dogs; the bigger they are, the more I get to hug and cuddle with. Although to be honest, I am also fond of Dachshunds, having had one for 12 years, they have a special place in my life as the best winter warmers, for my cold feet.

Growing up, I always had dogs around me. My grandparents loved dogs, my mom loved dogs (that’s where my brother and I definitely get it). Our dogs were family, never show-ponies for the world. I miss all my darlings. I remember calling up my dad from the UK, and telling him ofcourse I miss him, but I missed Fido (my doberman) and Caesar ( my dachshund) even more because I couldn’t talk them.

Right now, we have a Great Dane, Mufasa. My brother is going to contest the we here because Mufasa is his dog, and I know it. (You should see how Mufasas eyes follow Anuj around the house, it’s adorable). But from his puppy-dom to the first 6 months of his life, I mothered that cutie. So for me, it’s a we-dog. I am his mommy, nuff said.

But I am far away in Melbourne, and my brother and Mufasa are all the way back in India. And try as I might, I have been unable to get a dog here. Tried applying for foster care, volunteer work, but to no avail. Just going to go plonk myself in the RSPCA office and wait out my watch.

So anyhow, to curb the dog craving in my life, I started reading a lot of books about my favourite animal. Mostly written by animal behaviorists, these books talk about why our dogs behave the way they do, how they observe us, what can we do to improve communications with them, and the behaviorists also share anecdotes from their personal and professional lives. For a dog-affection starved me, it’s like manna, like a drug that I get a pooch-high from.

How Dogs Love Us

How Our Dogs Love Us is written by Gregory Berns (MD, PhD), who like all of us crazy dog lovers would constantly wonder what our dogs are thinking. All of us think we know what our dogs are saying, but these are surmised guesses at best, not scientific rationale or deductions. Nothing wrong in that too. But so much of the dog-human interaction could be improved if we just approached behavioural problems with logical reasoning, and not just on the basis of give treat, dog will sit.

The question that Berns asked, that most resounded with me, was when he wondered if his dogs loved him the way he loved them. If someone asked me if Pixie (my gorgeous lady Doberman who passed away in 1994) loved me, I would answer with a thumping yes. But if they asked me how much did she love me in comparison to how much did she love mom (the one who fed her), and dad (the one who walked her), I wouldn’t be able to tell you confidently. Of course she loved me more than she cared for the next door neighbour, but in our family, I might not have been her top-dog :)

So you know how Berns attempted to answer these and many other questions? He decided to do MRI scans on willing and participating dogs and owners, starting with his own pet Callie. As a research scientist in Emory University at Atlanta, he was backed by his brilliant team (most of them were dog-people). None of the sick and abusive treatment of animals under his watch, he wanted to treat the dogs with the utmost respect, and provided them with time and the right training.

You should read the book to learn more about the trials, tribulations and the hilarity of getting the dogs into the scanner. Its so insightful and enriching. The more I read it, the more I realised that we confuse our dogs more with our sub-conscious behaviour than how much we actually teach them. And our dogs are not always incentivised to do something for us just because we feed them.

But my favourite part of the book?

You know that question, as proprietorial as it sounds, of Does my dog know I am family, and someone else is just a friend/acquaintance? Does Mufasa still remember me, even though I am so far away from him? You know they do, but getting a scientific validation is just heartbreakingly delightful.

Gregory Berns had the same idea for one of his experiments, and he ran 3 categories of scents past Callie: self, family, and st,ranger in dogs and people both. Sure enough, when the scent swabs of family (dog and human) was passed to Callie, the caudate area in her brain (where the pleasure centres get activated) lit up like crazy, plus her brain cells worked less harder to track or identify their scents, coz she knew them, and had filed them already. With the stranger scent, she worked harder to store them in her brain, plus no caudate activity.

I cried a bit when I read it. I don’t know why. Call it emotional gratification, maybe.

I heart dogs. 

To know more about Gregory Berns, you can visit his website at http://www.gregoryberns.com

To know more about his book, you can click here

 

 

 

A Suitable Boy

Even though I am vehemently against the “Suitable Boy” in this book (all my romantic ideals down the drain…. bah!), the book was an immensely pleasurable read. Following is a list of my favourite quotes from the novella:

‘So, Dipankar,’ said Dr Ila Chattopadhyay, ‘have you changed your subject yet?’
‘ I can’t, Ila Kaki,’ said Dipankar.
‘Why not? The sooner you make the move the better. There isn’t a single decent human being I know who is an economist. Why can’t you change?’
‘Because I have already graduated.’

“Ah, Malvolio’s revenge-‘ said Mr Barua, coming up to them, ‘why have you made Olivia cry?’ he asked Kabir
‘I haven’t made her cry,’ said Kabir. ‘no one has an obligation to cry, any crying of hers is purely voluntary.’ SIGHhhhh This one is an absolute favourite…

‘what’s your name?’ asked Lata. The young man’s face broke into a happy grin. ‘ah! I thought you would never ask. I’m Kabir, but very recently my friends have started calling me Galahad.’
‘why?’
‘because they think that I spend my time rescuing damsels in distress.’

‘ being in love is good for you. You must do it more often.’
‘yes, I will,’ said Lata. ‘when you become a doctor, prescribe it to all your patients. ‘

“They agreed with each other violently and disagreed with each other pleasurably.”

“Meenakshi dropped in first with a question about whether it was possible to love more than one person—’utterly, desperately, and truly.”

At 1349 pages, and 591,552 words long, the quotes above are but a drop in the ocean that is Vikram Seth’s A SUITABLE BOY. But so many years since I read it, it’s these that always come to my mind when I remember the book. That and the flounce of chiffon… :)