Thursday, March 28, 2013

1, Old Lane

Every year there used to be a function in the colony where I lived. Almost all years of school I learnt Hindustani classical singing. My teacher Mr Pavitra Acharya, a portly Bengali gentleman who constantly used to chew paan thought that I was quite good. He was very strict about practising and many a times when there were school functions or singing competitions a girl from my class, Monica Gupta was her name would be pulled out with special permission to sing. It's so strange but I didn't like it. I did like singing, I just didn't like the fact that my teacher didn't consider me to be the best talent. I sang many times on stage along with Monica but was never given a solo song. This irked me. I wanted my very own spotlight. I did finally sing alone on stage at this little function in our colony in Mayur Vihar but it wasn't a Hindustani Classical complicated rendition but "Saare jahan se accha". My father organised these functions and was always very keen that I should be a part of them, so I participated. In this picture as you can see I'm not actually singing and that's because I'm not. I sang my song and rushed off stage and then my father sent me back to stand in front of the mike so that the photographer could take this picture.

Here I am a bit older singing the same song in a similar function again and this time really singing. I wonder where Monica Gupta is and if she still sings or if she's married and has a bunch of kids who sing. I don't know.

And that's me in my yellow shirt. My mother always dressed me in bright colours and I never really seemed to have an opinion on the matter. My hair was always cut short on which I did have an opinion which was not really considered worth a thought. In this picture I'm wearing one of my mother's lipsticks and the unmissable plastic clip on ear rings. The little girl with her arm around me is my little sister whom we affectionately call Mini. She is so beautiful and has that lovely bright smile that I love.

I remember this picture so clearly. I was always one of the tall kids and sat on the last bench almost all through school. I quite enjoyed it. The little wooden pencil box had ivory inlay work and my name was scratched inside the lid. I used this pencil box for many years. I had bought it on a school trip to Rajasthan. I love the grin on my face. I was so very happy in this moment.

Our school was divided in to four houses. I remember I was in Tagore house. Every years there were house shows. It was a competition and each year I'm still very proud to say that my house would win. My favourite teacher in school was my Hindi teacher Mrs. Gaur and she encouraged me to participate in plays. The picture on the left is from one such play. I think the only time I've ever been a lead actress! I played the wife of the guy in the check shirt and the guy wearing a coat is playing my husband's boss or the other way around.

I can't remember what the plot was, all I do remember is that it was some sort of comedy written by Mrs. Gaur. She is such a wonderful teacher. I haven't sent her a Teacher's day card for years now. May be I will do that soon. This picture was taken on the sports day. I was the Prefect of Tagore house and hence got to hold the placard and walk in front, my hair tied in a neat little ponytail with a brown ribbon. My parents came to the school as I was part of a dance and a race and the march past.

My father came to drop my mother but once he got there he realised I was actually doing quite a few things and he stayed. As you can see we won and it was funny because the first time that they announced the position of the four houses they did it in reverse order. The house that came last actually walked away with the cup. Thankfully the mistake was realised soon enough and on the left is probably the happiest day of my life. I ran the 400 and 800 mts races, stood first at high jump, got a bunch of medals. My parents were so proud.

The 12th standard farewell. I actually went to a salon to get my hair done and the woman made some horrid curls which took an hour to open up and I was almost in tears. My mother dressed me in her sari. I put on my mother's make up and there I am with one of my best friends Gazal. Gazal now lives in Bangalore and I visited her last year. She is just as lovely today as she was back then. She's had a rough year and let me say a prayer for her that she may get through it with strength and grace.

This sari is my favourite. I still don't know how to wear a sari and have to rely on someone else's expertise to drape it on me. I have a trunk full of saris from my wedding in Bombay which I am very unlikely to ever wear.

And that's my passport photo which went on the admission card of 12th standard board exams. How I miss that hair!

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