Wanderer’s blog!

Introspection & Retrospection were two words which have been on mind since yesterday for no specific reason! So my mind was not sure if I wanted to retrospect or introspect! Finally retrospection won the race! I am not going in to retrospection in the real sense but suddenly I remembered so many different peoples  whom I have met in my life and I thought let me share my impression and experiences about them with you. Also I am sharing my memories about a small restaurant. All this wandering is from the era in late 50’s when I was in school and late 60’s, when I entered college. Along with this there are some funny incidents also from that period! Let me tell you that they were normal people like all of us. My memories are more police related as my father was a police officer and our eco system was police eco system!

First and foremost is me! I distinctly remember that when I was born, exactly 68 years back this day, I cried loudly but others smiled! This was my first confusion! Here is a guy so helplessly crying, and all the other folks are smiling and laughing! This is where my confusion started. It is not yet resolved.

Jokes apart the first real thing I remember as a kid when we were in a place called Ahmednagar where my father was posted. Our home in Nagar was a bungalow. We had some sort of ceremony on a ground where I got some gift. (I was too young)  Well later I was told that there was a race for kids where everyone was given gifts! After this we were in Bombay where I was in a municipal school in fourth grade, on Lamington road! For some celebration we were making merry! I sang a song “Mana Janab ne pukara nahi” and a friend Gopal who was dancing to the tune! Good old days with no inhibitions!

Later we moved to stay in an area called Dhobitalao in Mumbai. It was a five story building used as police officer’s quarters. We were on ground floor and a very dark chap with strong mustaches and blood shot eyes, used to come our neighboring officer. He never went inside their home but the officer and that guy would keep on talking in a very low voice, at their door, as if they were discussing something very sinister. They did discuss something sinister, the guys’ name contrary to his personality was Vishnu, that should have been Ravan! As I grew older I came to know that he was a police informer and used to mix with all criminal gangs!

Then there was a guy called Mario. He was smart looking and loved to play cricket with us kids. He was 23/24 years of age. He was fun to be with; it never came to our mind what he must be doing in real life. Once he did not come for ¾ days. When he came, we asked him why didn’t he come to play? Then we came to know that he was doing post-graduation in Medicine and had emergency duties for 72 hours straight! Wow!

I remember one really funny incident. We had a friend Ashok. While in 11th grade he had started smoking. Once he was walking on the road near our home, smoking. There was a ninety degree turn around a building from main road to a lane. The design of the building was such that there was a porch in that building through which one could see across the lane. Through that porch his father had seen him smoking. While Ashok rounded the corner and saw his father, he hid his cigarette covering it with his palm. When they reached each other his father coolly said hi and pressed his palm with a very interesting result which we saw the next day!

Then we had one Mr. Misquita. He was also a police officer. He was a very good billiards player and our police club had three billiards tables. Once the then World billiard champion Wilson Jones had come for an exhibition game in the police club. He showed us so many tricks! Then he and Misquita played a serious match. We thought that Jones will give him a whipping! But Misquita really gave him a run for his money and Jones just scraped by!

We had a teacher called Mr. Mayekar in Ram Mohan school in Girgaum. He was always perfectly dressed. A dhoti, a coat and neatly combed hair with stylish glasses. He was our English teacher. He has definitely guided me  towards good English but he was not very sure what I would do in life as I was a very mischievous character. Sometimes he would call me to his home and teach me some important aspects of grammar just out of love! He used to be Professor of French in Wilson College in Mumbai but had a stammering problem. This issue forced him to leave college and join our school. We were lucky!

Our neighboring police officer was a very aggressive officer. He was six foot plus and really dashing. Once when I was in college, I was in the area where he was posted. I ventured into his office for a cup of tea. We were chatting and in came one smallish guy held by two policemen. My uncle said, Pramod give me a few minutes. He asked that man where he was on so and so date at so and so time. The criminal claimed that that he was traveling. This questioning was done 2/3 times with same reply. My uncle got up, he just hit the guy a massive punch in his stomach. That guy was thrown ten feet and was lying down in pain. The two policemen who were holding him went and started kicking him and pulled him up on his feet. All the time cursing him, “how the hell could he lie down in front of the boss!” By this time my uncle was back in the seat and enjoying his cuppa! I was also shaken and asked him what will be the result of the hit! He said that in next ten minutes the criminal will confess to everything.

I could go and on and on! But I will share one last experience of a restaurant, a very small one at that. It was called Kulkarni’s and was bang opposite my school Ram Mohan, In Girgaum. People would go there to eat various Maharashtrian dishes but my favorite was Potato bhaji and Birdyachi usal. Birdi is a pulse very favorite of Konkan region! Generally these dishes are eaten at home with Maharashtrian bread or poli. But in this restaurants people would come to savour these dishes, without poli, and there is used to be a big queue sometimes! Years back, I went back to check but Kulkarni’s now does not exist!

I have to share one secret! How did we have money to go to the restaurant, alone in those days? Well two ways, one was to tell at home that due to rush, we could not get the bus to go home, and we walked home, saving the money! Second method was to pinch a coin from home when no one was looking! Well we move on in life  but our mind starts wandering in old memories, as we grow older! Some equally interesting stuff later! Cheers! 

 

 

 

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Abode- Musings about first phase of my life!

This my life’s journey and role played by different homes in my life. I am sharing my treasure trove with you in this series!

Dictionary meaning of Abode is a place of residence; a house or home. The meaning is given in a few words but how much hidden meaning is there in this word. The life that we live is fully covered by this word. Attached to this word there are many hidden gems linked from everyones life. The abode can be a very small tenement to a big palace. One may be a pauper or a king in his life but in ones own abode you are always the king. There are joys and sorrows, love and hate, births, deaths, birthdays, weddings, preparations studying for exams and what have you. I could probably write about my each abode, one big episode but I thought writing about distinct memories and events from each phase would be more appropriate.

My first abode that I remember was in Andheri, a western suburb in Mumbai in early 50’s. It was a set of buildings and I don’t know what these clusters of buildings was called in those days. It was my first abode. That is where I made my first friend, Pradeep Gavankar. Pradeep and I are in touch with each other even today though infrequently. Pradeep has settled down at Houston in USA. Thirty years later I visited Sharad in Andheri; I went to see these buildings which naturally had become dilapidated structure but I could see myself playing cricket (by playing I mean hanging out as I was too small to play) or playing hide and seek. I also remember going to school walking in the direction of the railway station.

As I am writing about my different abodes  many thoughts simply rumble through my mind, so many memories, new experiences and new people. We humans are hoarders of experience, friends and memories. They are all hidden in our gray cells somewhere; you only need a little input or a tinkle in some format to get it to display in your kaleidoscope.

My father was a Police Officer with transferable job. From Andheri, we went to  then small town called Ahmednagar about 250 kms from Mumbai. We had a small bungalow quarters. A couple of things I remember distinctly are that I had won some kind of running race in my age group and people were clapping when I received the medal, I was probably the youngest in the group! Then surprise of surprise! Some dacoits decided to make a house break and steal things from our home; diwali had just ended so dacoits must have thought there will be some stuff worth stealing at our home. When dacoits came in at night, I was in bed with my mother and I still distinctly remember hearing a hissing sound as if something was being pulled out. I told my mother that I heard something but luckily she thought I was dreaming and put me back to sleep. The dacoits, when they were caught, were obviously shocked to know that they had broken open a Police Officers home; they said that they had planned to kill any person who woke up during the event. Luckily my grandfather also did not wake up though he was a very light sleeper.

Then we moved to Pune for a couple of years. Pune is half way between Ahmednagar and Mumbai both distance wise and culture wise. We stayed in a rented home this time; I was in 3rd/4th grade and made some good friends whom I remembered later in life when I shifted back to Pune again 10 years later. I used to go to school walking through small lanes with friends. You will be surprised to know that almost all the lanes have hardly changed except some homes which have been rebuilt. Once we heard that some army tanks were going on the main road (those were really different days!) . ¾ of us were running along with tanks on the footpath. After sometimes, we were so engrossed, we did not know that we had crossed our school. We had never done that before! In those days it was almost end of town. For benefit of those from Pune/Mumbai we were running on Jangli Maharaj road and had crossed Modern High School. Today this road is one of the busiest road and right in the center of the city and not end of city! Then there was one big fire about ten Km from where we stayed. We could see plumes of smoke from fire in the timber market. Those days buildings were so small we could easily see the smoke at that distance! Later I came to know my father as a Police Officer had to get involved in handling many things with that fire. Two more incidents I distinctly remember from this abode. We had a remote room to ourselves on the first floor. While playing there with a friend, I had inserted a screw driver in an electrical socket and boom….. I don’t know what I did but our fuse had blown off, luckily no injuries for both me and my friend. In another incident, near our home there was a motorcycle accident. Motorcycles were not so common in those days. There was a small crowd to see this and luckily the injured person was moved to the hospital but I can still visualize the mangled vehicle, my first!

We changed a few homes during my life time and but I always moved on when the change happened. I know of people who keep on having a great affinity to their native place and the home there, even after 30/40 years. I think people are made differently. When I lived in a particular home, I of course had a great affinity for the place but I could handle the change effortlessly and always moved on.

From Pune again we moved to Mumbai again and for about ten years lived in Dhobi Talao area just behind Metro Cinema. What days we had in that abode! In this abode I completed my school education and joined college too! Those were my formative year in my life and what fantastic facilities and set up we were lucky to have. It started with my re meeting my friend Pradeep as we went to same school (we did not know that) and met in the bus as he had moved from Andheri to Colaba. I went through my adolescence pangs in this abode. The typical awkwardness in dealing with female species, rebellion for and against everything parents would say, craze to do everything possible and playing sports all the time, exams were just a nuisance. Near our home there were three sports grounds, Cross, Azad and Oval but for some reason our favorite was Cross Maidan. We had Brabourne stadium, where I watched a few cricket test matches, close to our home and Marine Drive promenade was also close by. We had facility to play Badminton and Table Tennis in Police Sports club. This facility allowed me to be a part of my school team which won the tournament when we were in 11th grade! During holidays we were in the Police club all day. All these Maidans were used by us to play cricket and during monsoons we used play football. Monsoon was also a golden opportunity to hang around the Marine Drive with huge waves breaking on the retaining walls. ( We used walk on retaining walls!) On the Maidans there used to be Ramlila program during Dassara festival, we were allowed to go and see those religious dramas. But our main aim used to discretely watch the couples, who used the Maidan to meet for a bit of privacy! Our building was bang opposite Metro cinema on back side. We used to get excited if we were allowed a movie there. What style it had! The ushers used to wear Gray Jacket, Light brown trousers and bow tie as uniform! We used to be suitably impressed. The theatre was air conditioned and used carpets all through! Later on we became friendly with an usher Sawant. He was multitasking at Metro. Ushers had to work for a short duration during the show. In remaining time he was an artist, he used to paint the posters that were displayed at the theater. Our friendship helped us once in a while, as Sawant would allow us to watch movies on the sly via back door if there were empty seats! Eating out was considered sin in those days especially with road side vendors. Near our building, there used to be a Ragda Pattice walla but we were never allowed to eat with him. Even today I love to eat Ragda Pattice!

I know I can keep going on and on! There are so many things I can share with you but I may end up writing a book! I realized that our life is a combination of experiences that we gain. Our abode is the base that nurtures all our thoughts, helps inculcating different values, nurtures bonding which sometimes last all through our lives. You meet so many different people when you change abodes, this helps you to take the best from different people. I have become Cosmopolitan as I lived in Mumbai during the formative years. This has helped me largely in my future life. I think that will have to wait till next one!  Cheers till I talk of Elphinstone College, COEP and so on…