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Showing posts from September, 2010


We once had a cleaning woman called Anita, who came to help us with our domestic work. This is quite routine here in India although it's practically unheard of in my part of the world.  The cleaning lady helps us to sweep and wash our floors every morning and wash our dishes and utensils too.  Her husband Ram Lal had no job.  He used to accompany her, sitting outside the house.  He used to bring their baby daughter Gomti along too Gomti is the name of the river which runs through Lucknow.  The name was perfect for this little girl, aged about two.  She was very dark and had the cutest face I'd ever seen.  Short black hair, really chubby cheeks and a nose like a  little button.  Not to mention the beautiful black brown eyes.  I had two kids of my own at the time, Neil aged four and Mel aged two, but I became very fond of Gomti. Sometimes I used to give her biscuits.  I found her very responsive and sometimes I talked to her in Hindi, but with my level of Hindi and her age, t

Sundays in my City#8

It's been a long weekend here in Lucknow. Here are two kids finishing their homework on a quiet Sunday evening! Sundays in my City is hosted by Unknown Mami

Ladies' Satsang

My mother-in-law had been invited by the ladies of a neighbouring family to attend a satsang, that is, a prayer meeting.  She didn't feel like going.  My father-in-law had passed away only recently and she didn't want to start going out again just yet.  Besides, her two sister-in-laws were staying in our home on a long visit, so she wasn't bored and in need of getting out of the house.  There was, therefore, only one thing to do.  Send her daughter-in-law (me!) instead.  At six o'clock in the evening, having made sure that my kids had all been given something to eat and were all busy with homework, I go over to the neighbouring house, my youngest son accompanying me.  As I left, my father-in-law's two sisters remark that there was very little point in my going as I don't know Hindi.  My mother-in-law assures them that I will manage.  She obviously has more faith in me than I thought. Our neighbours are a combined family, just like us.  There is, however, only


Change is something so many of us would like to see, in the world and in our lives.    We're always trying to do it - usually from tomorrow.  Tomorrow, we tell ourselves, we'll turn over a new leaf.  Start that diet, that course, that course, the new course of action which will improve our lives for the better and put us on the path to a new tomorrow. Alas, without the deep down awareness and the will to really change for the better, the changes seldom come about. It's the same with society, or the greater community.  Everyone agrees that it would be great if there was equality of opportunity for everyone, in jobs and education.  We want to see the inequality of the sexes put right and justice for all.  Yes, the desire is there for change.  But why doesn't all this desire translate into positive change for the better?  Because the truth is that most people pay lip service to ideals but they don't have the true commitment to it. In south Asia, where I

Sundays in my City #8

A view of St Joseph's Cathedral, Lucknow as the Sunday evening Mass begins... Sundays in my City is hosted by Unknown Mami

Haldi Milk

There's a spice called 'haldi' in Hindi, turmeric in English.  It is a beautiful golden colour.  It is used for flavouring and colouring dishes.  I'm not terribly fond of haldi and far prefer cook dishes which don't require it.  I am not very good at cooking it properly.  My husband is very particular about cooking the haldi properly and many times, if I cook it, he swears it's still raw, even if the children and I think it's all right. There is one thing for which I love haldi.  It is very good for healing injuries.  If  you get a cut and have not antiseptic cream handy, you can mix haldi, found in any kitchen here in India,  with some cream and put it on the wound just like an antiseptic cream.  Haldi can stain clothes though, so you have to make sure it doesn't come into contact with any.  Haldi milk is very good for anyone who has been injured in an accident.  You'd have to add some sugar, though, otherwise it would be very bitter.  I drank tha

Light - Or The Absence Of It

Load shedding is a wonderful term.  I don't have any idea what it means.  I only know that it refers to power cuts where I live.  Out here in India, we experience power cuts quite frequently.  It can mean agony, depending on the season.  If it happens during the day in the summer season, it means the absence of cool air.  If it happens at night, whatever the season, it means the absence of light. Light is one of those things that you never miss until you lose it.  You're suddenly, often without warning, plunged into a black depth and you're desperately scrabbling for a torch, matches, candles, anything!  You inwardly thank Heaven if you've cooked your dinner and fed your kids before it happens.  It means tension for the parents of young children.  Searching for your children in the dark is not a good place to be.  Sensible people keep emergency lights ready and even emergency power systems are in place in many houses - some of us use inverters which are devices to stor

Sundays in my City #7

A stray dog came to our gate today.  He was very hungry.  I had to give him something, it is just not right to ignore a starving animal.  My children are very particular about feeding the stray dogs. He hung around for a while.  We know him.  He's been hanging around near our gate since early summer.  He has never bothered us in any way and is quite a peaceful animal. After a while, he went off on his way.  Stray dogs in our area of Lucknow have been getting a bad press lately, following an incident where some strays got into a school and bit a six year old so badly that she ended up in hospital.  It seems, however, on investigation, that the dogs had stones thrown at them by some older children.  The poor six-year old girl paid the price for that, being unable to run away fast enough.  I hear she's okay now, but it must have been an awful experience.  Maneka Gandhi, politician and animal rights activists claims that these dogs generally don't attack unless provo

Addressing People Correctly

Back in August I read a really interesting post by my friend Ayak , entitled "Addressing People Correctly" about the way people are addressed in Turkey differently depending on their place in the family etc.  I immediately decided to do an Indian version of the same post.  So thanks Ayak for the inspiration, this is my version of your wonderful post. India is a community of many cultures  and languages.  I am married to a north Indian who speaks Hindi, so the form of addresses I'll  be mentioning here are Hindi.  My rakhi brother Ramana is a Tamil from south India, although he has lived most of his life in Maharashtra which is in western India.  I am sure he could come up with a fascinating post on the same topic with both Tamil and Marathi expressions. In north India, mothers are generally addressed as 'maa' or 'amma with an honorific 'ji' at the end, hence 'maaji' or 'ammaji'.  My mother-in-law is generally addressed by the Englis

My Status on Facebook

 "We are what we are because of our life experiences and what we have come through. No two people will have the same perception of even the same thing. What is true for one is not necessarily for another. That is why it is so important to live and let live....."   This is my Facebook Status as I write this post. I mentioned on a blog post recently that my perception of my place of origin had expanded to include the whole of the United Kingdom and Ireland region, i.e. the English speaking part of western Europe.  Some of my family in Ireland were a little surprised by this and a small discussion broke out on my Facebook link.  They found it very strange indeed.   So in order to explain, I commented the following:   I love Ireland-it is part of my identity-but I've gone for years without meeting anyone from there. Can you understand how strange that is? When you consider that Punjabis, Bengalis and Tamils, who don't even speak the same language are con sidered

Sundays in my City #6

We are having a lot of quiet Sundays at home nowadays, when the most exciting thing that happens is having friends over. We enjoy spending our holidays at home. My husband's schedule keeps him busy six days a week, from early morning until late evening so being together at home is a rarity. My late father-in-law used to care for our garden. The roses he nurtured still grow in his absence. I love his lemon tree, now growing lavishly in the rainy season. About two years ago he had the grass area cemented over. When I asked him why, he smiled and asked me who, after his death would have time to tend to the garden. I had no answer to that. He passed away from our lives eight months ago, but he lives on in our hearts. I also feel that he lives on in his garden. In his roses and in his lemon tree... ---------- Sundays in my City is hosted by Unknown Mami


Just when you thought you'd become accustomed to life without them, they barge back into your life without warning.  I'm talking about rats and mice.  An odd time we get rats in the house and we have to take all the measures we can to get rid of them.  Sometimes we get mice.   The mice are tiny and the rats are rather large. When I lived in Ireland, I was afraid of rats and mice.  I am much more accustomed to them now and never let them bother me.  I think that in their own way, they just want to get on with their lives and leave the humans alone as far as possible.  That suits me very well. Sometimes they disappear in a couple of days.  While they are around, we have to keep food covered and clothes out of the way.  Well, we do that even when they're not around.  Sometimes we have to make a bit more effort to get them out of our lives.  My family tends to use a trap which looks like a tiny cage.  You put a piece of bread inside.  The rat goes for the bread and the door