Today morning I was just sifting through all the files on my laptop when I came across some of the old pics of our family. Needless to say, nostalgia struck and I was left missing them. It’s been a few months since I saw my parents and almost half a year since I saw my brothers, we talk on the phone, skype, chat and stuff but still…something seems to be missing. I miss the times when my dad was in Airforce and all of us would move from one city to another, literally living out of boxes. Three years in each city. By the time we got used to a place and made friends, it was time to leave. Even then, we had each other. As a kid all I could think about was how much I hate my brothers for being two annoying pests, but now, I can only remember the fun times. Like when the three of us would feast on mangoes which our gardener would pluck for us, or when Shereef and I took it on ourself to teach 3 yr old Bilal the alphabet, on an imaginary black board (But must say, for a 3 yr old he was pretty patient with us :D),or when the three of us waited for guests to leave so that we could pounce on the snacks mom served for them (usually bourbon biscuits which were oh-so-exotic back then)
|Umma, Uppa, Baby shereef and me. Before Bilal was born. (Don't cry Bilal!)|
We also used to have trips with other families (Mostly the Malayalee families in the campus). There would be kids of all age groups and you are bound to find a companion for the trip. The mommies on the trip would group together and chat(read-gossip), the men would start with their jokes and the kids would run around the entire place screaming.
|Shereef and I. Before we started plans to murder each other|
Some of the most memorable trips were when we were staying in West Bengal. Our favourite destination was Kurseeong, Darjeeling’s lesser known cousin. I still remember us driving through the fog and looking at the top to down houses built on the slopes. We would spend 2 days in the Air Force guest house there, all huddled in warm sweaters and shawls...and how can I forget the infamous 'monkey caps'! (It must be the single most detested piece of clothing by defence kids) Sometimes we would go higher up and go to ‘Tsanko lake’. Once when we were there, there was snow all around and the lake was completely frozen! I remember how excited we were on our drive up as we saw trucks covered in snow coming down. Once we reached there seeing all the snow around, I went a little crazy and jumped out of the car as soon as we stopped and for some reason I thought it was a good idea to start running around. I ended up fainting and spent the rest of the time there inside the car while my brothers and friends had snow fights outside. I remember when the pictures were developed, there was one pic in which everyone posed near the car with snowballs in their hands and you could see my lonely silhouette in the car. *sniff*
|Oh yes, I was one cool kid|
As kids what we used to look forward to the most was the summer vacations (Like duh!). This was the time for trips to kerala! Even though we didn’t like Kerala much back then, the prospect of being pampered by grandmothers and aunts was very tempting. I remember our train rides which would take 2 or 3 days and were usually quite eventful. Now that I think of it, I really can’t imagine how my mom must have managed two days stuck in a train with 3 unruly and hyper kids. I was still tame compared to my brothers, who would run the length of the compartment and would demand for every single food item that passed our way, Loudly. As a small kid Bilal used to love tea, so much that once in the train when our co passenger, a grumpy old man, started drinking tea from his flask Bilal went ‘Mujhe chaay peenay ka mann lag raha hai’ ( I feel like drinking tea) to no one in particular. The old man caught on and instead of graciously offering him some tea said ‘Lekin isme cheeni kam hai’ (But it’s not really sweet) again to no one in particular. My diplomatic brother then says ‘Kuch nahi hota’ (that’s alright!). Finally the man had to give in and poured out a cup of tea for him. For the rest of the trip my mother and I pretended that we didn’t know this annoying kid. If I were my mom during these train rides, I would have pushed my kids out of the running train. Like seriously.
|Bilal, 'posing' for a picture|
On visits back home we enjoyed being the centre of attention. What used to amuse us kids the most was when we went out people would stop us and ask us if we were from Bombay after they hear us speak in Hindi. We never failed to get a kick out of that. Of course, there were some relatives (of the older variety) who used to hate us speaking in hindi. My grand dad especially, he made it his mission in life to get us back to speaking in Malayalam, our ‘mathrabhasha’. He didn’t succeed.
|Family with grand dad. (Sans the pests)|
What was amazing was how close we were to our cousins and the other family members despite the fact that we met them only once a year. And this was before facebook and skype and stuff where you can stay in touch with them every single day. When all the cousins got together, especially during the weddings, it was one crazy house! Now that we are all ‘grown up’ we are expected to behave and not run around chasing each other. *shakes head sadly*
|With our cousin|
What I realize now is that we had really fulfilling childhoods. We didn’t have cell phones, ipods or facebook accounts. We had fixed tv times which would be spent changing channels between WWF and Tom and Jerry. But we were happy with our lives. We had real friends with whom we would play out in the sun till we got so tanned that grandma would ask us ‘Ninte colour enth aayi’ (‘What happened to your colour’ which means you have tanned…it’s weird, in kerala ‘colour’ means ‘fair’, so ‘more colour’ means fairer skinned hence better…yeah doesn’t make sense).Without all the stuff that kids have today ( I have seen three yr olds with Ipads, I swear!) we had our share of fun. We climbed trees, broke bones, broke teeth, fought with friends, made up, fought again, got scolded for coming home late, sneaked into the store room to steal mom’s 'guest-food supplies', ran to our school buses with breakfast in one hand and shoes in the other, pretended to fall sick on the day a home work was due....looking back, we couldn’t have asked for better childhood. All praise is to god for blessing us with it!
Now my entire family, cousins, aunts, uncles (even some grandmothers) included, is on facebook. We even have our own family website. But sometimes I can’t help feeling that there is something missing. I miss imagining how my cousin would have changed in the one year I haven’t seen her. I miss seeing the new born kids in the family, for real instead of on facebook. I have to admit I am hooked to facebook and sometimes spend more hours than I'd like to admit on it. But there are times when I wish I could go back and not know anything about facebook or gmail chat and just be that girl with a chipped tooth chasing her brothers around the house for a piece of coffee bite.