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I look back at the stories my grandmother told, and feel that it was the most fascinating part of my life. Things have changed so much due to technology, and make me long for my roots.
My Daadi (paternal grandmother) was one of the most fascinating souls I have come across in my life.
Daadi hailed from an extended royal family and got married into one. In that era (pre-independence India) this lady knew how to play horse polo and eat with chopsticks (something that I am not 100% good with, even having been in a metro since the last 15 yrs). She had infinite grace, where she always was very fond of dressing up, eating good food, cooking some of the most exotic recipes for her children and grand children, and much else.
I still remember her crisp cotton sarees and her way of taking the pallu (covering her head) even when she was in her 80’s. She used to always tell me that our generation of girls had a lot of scope to learn personal grooming, specially when she saw me so casual with my dressing. Well, I have to admit , I was always found in a T-shirt and shorts or pyjamas, and was very bad (am still bad) when it came to make up. By dressing up she never meant that we should also start wearing sarees. She was quite progressive with her thinking and understood that times were changing, and so was the attire.
Looking back I sometimes think about how particular she was with everything, how she cared for every single detail, and this made her stand out where ever she went.
She was very fond of paan (betel leaves) and had her own Paan ki Thaali with several small silver boxes with a lot of condiments to add to it. Every time she came to visit us or we went to our ancestral village, we always saw her Paan ki Thali kept next to her favourite chair (she had one wherever she went). After lunch and dinner, she would take the thali very carefully and place it in her lap, and like a child engrossed with his toy, she would be engrossed with making her paan, folding it and gently putting it in her mouth.
It was a pleasure seeing her do this, and after my meals on a lazy day I used to just sit there with her, waiting for her to finish making her paan, after which we started our discussions on various topics. That was the time when she used to come up with so many gripping tales of her childhood, her wedding, the big joint family in those days, her children, and about the golden times of the Kings and Queens, and the British era.
We talked about the how she learnt different techniques of napkin folding, to laying tables with the right placement of cutlery, to how they wore salwar kameez for the first time, to how they played horse polo even when women did not indulge in outdoor sports, and so many things.
These stories sometimes took a delicious twist around the time of festivals (if she happened to be there then) and there one could see her all charged up cooking the meals associated with it. While cooking we discussed about ingredients, spirituality our culture and many more things.
Life was technology free during my school and college days, or should I say, it had not penetrated so much into our daily lives. We still looked forward to talking with each other more rather than being engrossed in TV… well gadgets were not much heard of then.
Conversations were so lively then, and every tale being told, had its own charm. There were tales passed on from generations to generations which I doubt will be the case a few years down. Now we crave to try out a new app, a new gadget and even a new restaurant where one might spot all the family members having their own smartphone in their hand and surfing away waiting for the food to arrive.
Life has changed drastically and I know change is inevitable and should be sometimes welcomed, but what is saddening is that our mind just wants to embrace anything which is new and fancy and tends to forget the things which probably are good but are old. We sometimes ignore the postives of all the practices our older generation believed in.
Please pause here and do take a minute and think about the ever increasing presence of technology, and how various short cuts in our lives impact us very silently (don’t we all know this already? But still we want to ignore). It is when they hamper us in some way that our alarm bells ring.
So ghee has been replaced in Indian cooking with olive oil, kitchens have welcomed microwaves, and we started loving our weekly intake of packed and junk food. The Indian chai was replaced by green tea, laddoos were replaced by cookies, and the paranthas were by burgers. But unfortunately a time has arrived when we have started facing the brunt and people have started complaining about lifestyle diseases.
We are back to believing that whatever our Daadis and Naanis ate was the best and we have some of our famous nutritionists supporting this. Thanks to her and her Bollywood fan following (it’s amazing to see how we believe something when they endorse it) we have started going back to our roots.
I will accept that life is so easy when it’s just around your smartphone which helps you to order your vegetables, groceries and your favourite food, to connecting you to social networks, but in the bargain we are losing out on the one on one conversations. The bond which we create with different people as we talk to them face to face with an eye contact, the understanding that we develop as we gauge body language and the way our minds think, to participate in a live conversation with a person – all this is slowly dwindling.
I sincerely do hope that time takes a little U turn and goes back to having a lot of we time together, that conversations come alive again, dinner tables are occupied in full attendance again. Grandparents are still very fascinating when they narrate their old stories, and grandchildren still want to sit glued by their side.
Published here earlier.
Header image is a still from the movie Veer Zaara
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