Wednesday, October 17, 2012

From the Diary Of an Army Brat- The one about home (1)

Winston Churchill once said "We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us."
I din't get to shape my home till very recently and that too not as much as I would have liked, but my home did shape me. Growing up I believed home was where I lived at that time. I dint know for how long I would get to live there in that house or even in that town but that was home to me then. Not the half hearted 'Oh we're just renting this place out for a bit- house' . It was home, as much as the place I'd come from with the still alive promise of going back to and as much as the new place we'd go to, (after a few days of skepticism, of course).
That was the easy part. Knowing it. The tough part was answering the most general question 'beta, where are you from?' I'd say here. When I was really young, people who dint know my parents believed me till  their next question in the vernacular language was met with a blank stare from me. Their next question almost always was 'what do you speak at home?' with a lot of concern in their tone and eyes, mind you (what kind of parents let their offspring speak only Hindi and English! This was unacceptable!) To which I'd say 'Hindi and English' trying to make sure they got what I'm saying (Oh the horror!).

Cut to the part when I was in Lkg (lower kindergarten) I had a few places I belonged to already. All from different states of India and I'm sure my class teacher thought I was a nut for reciting my list like my favourite poem (with a little description along, obviously), I was told by my mum not to bother, that I was an Indian and that's what I was to say the next time anybody asked me those dreaded questions. (Well, what she didn't prepare me for were the exact details people wanted after beaming proudly at my very patriotic, evidently taught answer. So I doled out my list as usual only to be met with strange looks again).

See, being born to a mum from Maharashtra and a dad from Andhra Pradesh, I still had 2 states and a few places there to visit. But that was a holiday. I knew that wasn't home. Like other holidays we took every now and then staying at a mess or a hotel, not home. The furniture was different, the wall hangings all unknown, no mementos and so were the carpers, curtains and bedspreads (Though my Donald and Daisy duck bed sheet went with me everywhere). Moreover, I was really confused about whose family was where for a long time. And that answer wasn't what anyone would want. So I stuck to my list.

I must have said 'my list' at least thirty seven times already by now! Ok, don't count. I exaggerated! This post is for me to talk about my homes yet again after a loonngg long time (I stopped when I was in the third grade, okay!)
Oh and a note here before you proceed. Fortunately (for others) or very fortunately(for me), I have a really good memory and  I've been told it's quite creepy (by my brother) So I might get into a lot of detail here and there. Just stay with me, okay?
Raise your hand if you're still with me! 

House #1. Udhampur (J&K) I was born in a beautiful town called Udhampur. Snugly fit in between Jammu and Srinagar. annd I digress. Sorry, the house. Oh I'm told we moved out of there when I was 41 days old. But I've seen the house. No, not in pictures. I saw it in reality. You'll know later when! So this was on the fourth floor of the first block. (1/8 it was called) You could see the shopping center (Chinar Shopping complex, popularly called Chinar) from there. The only big thing in Udhampur, at least back then. You could see the name of the movie playing in the theater there. Then you would have to collect at least 30 people.. OK We'll talk about this later.
 I don't know much about this house since I saw it from inside just once. I just know that I very recently bumped into our (then) neighbour's son and we would play badminton and go to RSI together and he even came home to play with Zorro a lot, till he left for Goa and me being me, lost contact. Oh I just forgot to mention that neither of us knew that our parents were neighbours and that our mother's were good friends till my mum recognized his surname and knew for a fact it was them because she'd heard what her friend had named her first born. And a few weeks back, my father bumped into another friend from the same block. And we bonded over it last Tuesday. Oh isn't this the best part of fauj?

House#2. Bangalore (Karnataka) This you could actually call my first home. I remember this house a little. I remember the bougainvillea tree that almost entered our veranda that had a cane jhoola. There were jack-fruit trees in our backyard and our neighbour had a guava tree in their front (The 1 year old me had a hard time explaining 'guava' to everyone). We had a beautiful garden and I knew the flowers by heart. I remember I'd run past 2 blocks to Varadharaj uncle's house. I called him appa. Because his daughters did. I remember walking around in our regimental center. I went walking to the Aiyyappa Swaami Temple with Mehboob bhaiya every morning. We'd sit under a tree and I'd tell him stories  and the new flower names and the important people names I learnt from the charts in my play room. and we always paid a visit to the park right in front of our house before heading home. Our doors and windows were blue. I never again lived in a house with blue doors and windows till..

House #3. MHOW (MP) Okay so This wasn't a posting. This was a course we accompanied papa on but we had a home. We ate at the dining room, but we had a home. Our house was on the first floor here. I wan't in school yet. I was around 1 and a half years old. But I remember the people here especially my friend whose house was on the ground floor in the same block. Then there was this South African officer who was there for a course too, he would come play with me a lot. He said had a daughter my age, at home whom he  missed a lot! I remember the tonga (horse cart) there. I used to called the horse 'Rani'. Because he/she was brown and I knew a brown horse in Bangalore called Rani (Cubbon Park).

House #4. Bhuj (Gujarat) Our first house here (the temporary accommodation  was on the ground floor. Mom and me would walk to the OAT to watch movies every week. Sometimes, we'd bump into my friends from school and the movie was forgotten. Our next door neighbours were our cousins! What fun that was. Sharat and me were in the same class in Nursery that my mum taught. We went to the school in the OG bus. I think I started skating here, at home. The skating rink? We'd cycle there! He's now an army officer! yes, ours is a very fauji family!

House #5 Bhuj (Gujarat) The Major's accommodation was on the first floor. Here, I remember being happy and then happier! We had a pretty terrace where I spent a lot of my time. Mamma told me stories sitting on this terrace every night before I was put to bed. My parents finally gave in to my demands for a sibling and got me Jenny (No, wait, Doctor uncle got me Jenny! She was pretty and white as snow. She had a temper too, and I was at the receiving end of it a lot! I remember walking Jenny one evening and then getting stuck in a Babul thorn bush and hurting myself. We could see the Prince's Palace from our balcony here and he came down for our mess parties. He was a large man with white hair and wore gold buttons on his white bandhgala suit. I remember him like that. My ammamma (Mamma's mamma) visited us here. Okay so NOW my parents gave in and I was told I was finally getting a baby. Papa, me and Jenny would go to the beach (Mandvi sea) and splash around whenever he was around. Then on one fine September evening  when me and my cousins (along with that set of parents) were going to the OAT to watch a movie (starring Ajay Devgn! I swear I don't know why I remember this), Our bhaiya on his cycle caught up with us to announce that mamma and papa were going to MH to get the baby! I finally got my baby brother TWO days after that announcement! I remember I specifically asked for a sister. But well.. I decided not to throw a tantrum solely because it took forever for the baby to get there in the first place. I couldn't go through the process all over again.  Honestly, after the baby came, I don't think I remember anything else!

Wow! So this got long! I'll continue this in another post.
Till then you can tell me about the places you've lived at! Any of the above? It would be nice to know!


  1. Loved the post,from fauji kid to another I always got foxed by the same question "where are you from" and till this day it's a difficult one to answer, i too have lived in over a dozen cities and two dozen houses and its impossible to say I belong to one place when I felt at home in all the cities and never belonged to any!

  2. My brother in law is in aviation, and my sister keeps on telling me about all the places they keep on moving to.

    You can write a book like "18 States(what ever the actual number of states that you have lived in is)" someday ..hehe :D

    1. haha no, I think I'll just stick to doing it here and force you people to read it! lol

  3. This sounds like such an adventurous life...and fun too, tho I'm sure it must be difficult as well. I was born and brought up in, college, work, all a 15-20 min walk from home. And my sasural is a 15 min drive from my maika!!! And though iv travelled quite a bit, iv never had the oppertunity to LIVE in a different city/country.

    1. It's my normal! You know, Today, when I think of it, I actually wonder how difficult it must have been for mum with two young kids a lot of dogs and someone or the other camping at our place without having papa around; where she was responsible for the regiment's ladies welfare and all, being the senior most Lady Wife in our regiment then, But she never once let us feel that! Even when I ask her, she says it's just what you get for falling in love with a fauji and when you're living it, you can't afford to see the difficulties! I've Lived in Secunderabad for around 7 years now, on and off, and I'm going mad! I need my every two years at a "Godforsaken place" I guess! :)

    2. Wow, hats off to ur mom...handling all that while hubby is away! I hate it when my hubby travels...I get terribly moody.
      Guess wanderlust is part of ur DNA now...u need to marry someone in an MNC who gets sent to different places every couple of years..or maybe a fauji :)

    3. I know man! If only I could be anything like her, I'd be happy! I guess wanderlust is part of my DNA! Scary!! I see some of my friends who were all happy when their husbands left for the first few times, because we'd have our own party, but now, they get too cranky when their husbands leave even for a day! So I've seen this!

  4. i hv traveled so many places in 2 yrs of wedding with my fauji pati...some times its not adventure... ;)

    1. haha I agree! My mum says the same thing. But as a fauji brat, it's all great! :)


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