Friday, March 21, 2008

Autoricksha Confessions 3: House pets

Some of my most humiliating moments occurred during childhood. And the fact that one of these is wrapped around some fond memories is kind of ironic.

I grew up in Vadodara but spent all my vacations in either Mumbai or Nargol, which is a terrific coastal town just inside the Maharastra border. Near Nargol lies a small blink and you'll miss it community called Have (which is where I get my family name from). Dad's family had a farm in Have filled with all kinds of cool things all the way from hay stacks you could slide on, trucks you could mock-drive, water wells you could climb down, farm animals you could terrorize and low slung mango trees that could provide three square meals a day.

A lot of these vacations would be spent with my favorite cousin-sister Raveena Tandon (not her real name). Since boys and girls seem to get their kicks in different ways when young, Raveena and I had a tacit understanding. She would participate in any game I wanted - and like a responsible, older sister often take the fall for me - if I played any game she invented without complaining.

My favorites were sliding down haystacks (for which Raveena has taken copious slaps to the palm on my behalf) and locking ourselves in the chicken coup and chasing chickens around all afternoon. Yes, life was simple and good.

Until it was my turn to play one of Raveena's games. Which almost always would involve some form of "House". Usually this would mean taking some bricks (yes we had a kiln on the premises as well) and creating partitions that served as "rooms". Raveena designed, I had to build.

After this backbreaking exercise (particularly in Nargol's harsh summers) I would grab a book and declare an hour of rest. Raveena would coo around in the "house". This wasn't so bad unless some farm animal had babies. Dogs were the worst because soon the house would be filled with puppies. Raveena would insist on calling them "our children" and often give each one a name. Which I was supposed to remember. Already stressful embarrassment would infuse me because some of the farm workers would be watching from the corner of their eyes with large smiles on their faces.

Occasionally Raveena would go shopping leaving me to babysit the um, puppies. More often than not, by the time she returned with the produce (which was startlingly always mangoes), the puppies would either be gone or trying to kill each other. And Raveena would stand right there in the living room and braise me loudly. "What kind of a father ARE you!?" she'd yell "So irresponsible! Our children are lost!"

I would have to meekly go out and gather the pups because it was all part of our honorable trade agreement. Almost certainly some scoundrel pup called Rustom would find the thorniest bush to hide under resulting in cuts and scratches on yours truly. At this point the farm workers would stop whatever they were doing and just watch me. Some would have shaking bellies although you couldn't hear the laughter.

Years later, I remain hugely fond of Raveena. However some scars linger. I love children, but not puppies. I am terrified of my sons wandering off somewhere. I don't grow anything with thorns in my garden (I have freaky thornless roses). I can't read books in the living room.

Previous 3-wheeler rides: Boxing Day, Carefree Errands

Also:

33 comments:

leera said...

Aspi you are the 'awesomest' type of weird out there :)

That sounds so idyllic, chicken coops, hay bales and puppies called Rustom, brilliant!

Keep up the confessions, blogging gold I tell ya.

Amrita said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
HoonPanGujarati said...

Hey Aspi. This article makes me feel nostalgic. Wish u a Happy Navroze. the house in the article looks so Parsi.

Joules said...

This article brings back memories. My grand parents lived in a very idyllic village in UP and my parents to get a break in summer would pack us and send us to granny's place. So did all of my cousin's parents.

So we would end up with a whole contingent of Raveena Tandons and Akshay Kumars. Although just like Amrita's brother we ended up doing mostly boy stuff. But the memories are great - diving in the village lake (more like a pond), eating water chestnuts, sugar cane or mangoes all day, casing the whole area either in a ox cart or a tractor....

This little village did'nt have electricity then so we would get ready in our pajamas as soon as sun went down sit by a lantern and the house helps would tell scary ghost stories till late in the evening.

Aspi said...

Hey thanks for the wishes. I'm touched all of you remembered. Especially given that Mum had to call this morning to remind me.

amrita, I am an only child and I envy third wheels.

joules, thats funny because our village didn't have electricity either. So it was big honking petromaxes, batting mosquitos and green tea at night. This rocking party would last well into the dark and then we'd all go to sleep at 9pm.

Cinderella said...

It felt so good to read this,Aspi! seriously.

i envy all of you..i don't have any such memories to cherish!!

Happy Navroze to all of you:)

does that mean happy holi:-?sorry i'm not too familiar with it!

Lata P said...

Happy Navroj. Those childhood days are the good old days. I used to visit my mom's place in tamil nadu every summer. I remember all the fun me ,my sis and my cousins had.Playing in the rice fields ,watching that crabs come out of their water holes,spotting water snakes in the field ,watching the buffaloes given a bath in the small pond nearby, which had a banyan tree on its rim which had so many parrots that used to drop some half eaten red fruits.I can just go on and on. And in bombay we used to play "ghar" a lot.We used take a blanket and make tent out of it. Inside we used to have a small kitchen and used send my cousin out to get vegetables. I would have loved to have some puppies in my back yard to play.Thanks Aspi for sharing some of those childhood memories.

anu g said...

Happy Navroze, Aspi to you, Lady Drift, and the two Masters.
Ur post brought back very nostalgic memories.
Amritha,we seem to have very similar reactions. That was exactly what I felt when i read 'Have' was a place. I have been pronouncing it the English Have' myself.I am so glad u confessed both times before me:).

leera said...

Enlighten me people, why is Navroze celebrated? I want a drift lesson as I am completely clueless about it.

I wish you all the good tidings for it Aspi.

Aspi said...

Thanks for more wishes everyone. FYI, Drift Memsaab celebrates everything but just for the record she is not a Parsi. She comes from the land in India where the mountains are high, the doodh is fresh and everyone is a bhaiya(ji). Heh heh, she's going to kill me for saying that.

Navroze is the Persian New Year - its a different calender, the first day falls on Spring Equinox.

Tania said...

Happy Navroze, Aspi.
Some good memories there. Being an only child has its advantages too. :)I remember riding on the back of a bicycle for 10 km to attend a doll marriage :D.I also played gilli danda and pittu.

Aspi said...

Whats pittu?

ritha said...

happy navroz!

Joules said...

Pittu is seven stones. I use to love that game.

sidekick said...

awww... what a lovely confession, aspi. u'd said this one would be tame, but somehow this tops the earlier two! as with everyone else here, it brings back a flood of memories of magical summer holidays spent in rural settings at grandparents' homes. those were the days --- extended family, lots of cousins --- much masti and shararat .

i think i've played raveena all my life --- and continue to do so :). my brother's and multivarious cousins' scars bear witness ;)

Manish said...

Navroze Mubarak!

Mind Rush said...

Manish, dude, I have missed you! Hope you will come by again. I always wondered what you were up to...that famous artwork of yours is etched in my brain forever.

Belated happy Navroze, Aspi and family!

Anonymous said...

I would not mind a mini blog on Parsi festivals and what they mean.

Aspi said...

Ah Pittu - we used to call it Satodia. Now anyone remember the name of that back breaking game where kids (mostly boys) had to stand crouching and the other team jumped on them? Boy, that was fun if you were the one doing the jumping.

anon, there are two major Parsi festivals: Time to Dance and Time to Eat. Other stuff gets made up because we don't want to feel left out.

sidekick, before I forget, have a fun March Madness.

The Drift (so-called) Memsaab said...

Well, the hubby provokes me to speak..And hell hath no fury like a Memsaab stereotyped!

Aspi, overall, the blog post had the heart warming effect of
Barjatya Productions. But that reference to Raveena Tandon yelling and our young boy Drift listening meekly reminded of many older Parsi couples in and around Have.

Not that I am complaining....After all, to quote a famous book, "The meek shall inherit the earth."

Amrita said...

AnuG - i'm just glad to have company. :) I notice he didn't tell us how to pronounce it. Hmmmmm.

Aspi - jumping over crouched children? Er - leapfrog? Heh heh.

And a big LOL @ the memsaab. It clearly behooves me to get myself a Parsi husband.

megan said...

i found out that my friend's roommate is zoroastrian and i didn't even know. i was checking his facebook profile and it said something about Nowrooz and i was like i have heard of this before..

His name is Fabian. next time i am over her place i should ask Fabian to cook me some parsi food and say something to like totally surprise him with my knowledge. ASPI what should i say that is totally parsi?

are all zoroastrians parsis? and all parsis zoroastrians? one of my mom's cousin is married to some dude whose surname is Khambatta and he is a parsi but has a muslim name.

megan said...

oops btw
happy nowrooz/navroze

happy holi

and happy easter too

sidekick said...

a manish sighting :::waves::: ... manish, i agree with mind rush - u shd stop by more often :)

Meant to wish the drift first fam a happy navroze, but forgot to add that in my post last nite. and to everyone, i'll add my happy holi and happy easter too (thanks megan!)

drift memsaab, u don't post often but u always make it count --- keep rocking as malaika may say :)

and aspi, isn't it Huh-vay?

Priti said...

Ahh! Finally the D memsaab breaks her silence! Or have I missed it, while I was rushing by, in any earlier post?

Good to see you. Have to say this -you are quite a family - errr...of writers is what I meant! :-)

Aspi said...

sidekick, right about the pronunciation of the last name. Like my chemistry teacher used to tease me: Havewala, huh-vey shoo karoo?

Megan, a long time ago a bunch of Zoroastrians, facing religious persecution in Iran, got on a boat and sailed all the way to Navsari in Gujarat. Those dudes stayed in India and to cut a long story short came to be known as Parsis. All Parsis are Zoroastrians but it doesn't work the other way around.

Fabian sounds like a Persian name to me more than Parsi but I could be wrong. If you are going to ask him to cook be prepared for some middle eastern food. Parsi food is much more delicious because its hugely influenced by Indian food.

Amrita, that game - never got its name. But once you jump up on all the guys you are supposed to hold up a count on your fingers and say "Kitti Kitti" which I think is Marathi for how many. And if they guess, you have to go under and the other guys get a chance to jump on you. If the guys can't hold your weight or can't guess, they go under again. That game should be called Spinal Tap based on the strain on the back.

Anonymous said...

Hi Aspi,
Happy Navroze!! Thank you for your enjoyable blog.

BTW, I noticed that Ismailis (followers of Aga Khan) also celeberate Navroze - must have something to do with the fact that this sect of Islam originated in Iran.

While not all Zorastarians are Parsis, the word Parsi itself is of Persian origin. The word Farsi (the language spoken in most of Iran and parts of Afghanistan) is derived from Parsi. The 'P' got replaced by 'F' because the Arabs didn't (and still don't) have a 'P' sounding alphabet in their language. Most modern Arabs use the 'B' sound for 'P'. I still chuckle when I hear my Egyptian friend wanting to find a place on Friday to park and then pray :-)

- Texan

girlie girl said...

Happy belated Navroze!! I'm a total fan of the Autoricksha confessions!! I never got to play "Ghar" when i was younger, I used to play with with my brother and his friends so I was a total TomBoy. I was like Kajol from KKHH...except for the weird clothings and the terrible short-bob!! We did play a lot of Satodia and gulli-Danda though...that was so much fun!! Aww...I miss the days when a vacation was consisted of outdoor playing instead of video-games and computer-games!!

anu g said...

Amrita, sigh,so from the way we were pronouncing Aspi's name(no foul language, just fonetics)ass-pea-have-wala,we r now supposed to say 'us-pea-huh-way-wala?. Gosh, it seems like we r referring to another person:).
My sis got married many many years ago when telephones calls were very difficult and expensive to make.So we communicated with my bil through letters. He asked us to call him by his nickname, which we did. When we met a year later, he was not very happy to know that all of us (the extended family included) were pronouncing it wrong. We tried changing, but it just wouldnt work. So now about 25 years later, he is resigned to the fact that his name is different in india.Er, Aspi, r u getting the hint:).

Amrita said...

AnuG - Lol, I know!

priti said...

Hilarious! And strangely reminiscent of my mom and aunts' vacations at the family farmhouse in Rajkot. Dude, which thornless roses do you grow? My only thornless ones are Therese Bugnet and Clotilde Soupert. Wait till you see Frau Karl Druschki. Transplanting that monster resulted in deep gashes on my hubby's body. We call Frau 'The Dragon'.

priti said...

Oh my! I have my very own namesake *gulp*

Aspi said...

Not only your namesake but she's also written for us before :). Priti - the first one - where are you man?

Priti - the second one - I am not that rose-literate. I just buy my bushes from Home Depot :)