Saturday, December 8, 2012

From the Diary Of an Army Brat- The one about home (3)


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 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 coming back to as much as the new place we'd go to, (after a few days of skepticism, of course).
Here, I talk about all my homes. The first ten were here and here.

Okay so House #11 Bathinda (Punjab) Our first home here was this very tiny temporary accommodation because we couldn't stay at the mess forever though they did all they could to keep us there. So we shifted into this tiny 2 bedroom house. There was a huge (like almost a hanger, huge) garage in front of the house where we kept our trunks and other things. There was this primary school next door that was always empty by the time we got back home from our school and we played in the school play ground on the swings and the seesaw and the slides. But we got bored soon and thankfully we got our house in the cantt next.

 House #12 Bathinda (Punjab) This one was on the first floor in the Old Officer's colony. I love Bathinda cantt. Living there was so much fun. In this house, my room was filled with my water colour paintings and so was the corridor. Other than that, we dint live here too long. So there's not much to say.

 House #13 Bathinda (Punjab) The permanent house! Finally! This was on the ground floor with a pretty lawn in front. I loved this house, but loved it more when my best friend from school shifted next door. Their garden was a beautiful one. So we'd sit in my veranda and finish our homework, then play in hers. Here, we'd cycle to the swimming pool everyday. We cycled to our school, we cycled to the Shopping center 1 to get bread in the evening, heck we even played hide and seek on our cycle a couple of times. We went horse riding and all I can say was that this was one of my favourite-st places to be! I love Bathinda.

 House #14 Udhampur (J&K) You remember how I said I saw the house I was taken to from MH (Military Hospital. Yes, I was born in one and so were 99% of army kids) here? No, I dint live there again! But my mum promised to show the that house the day we entered Udhampur (my parents took turns driving to Udhampur from Bathinda, so we entered it by road. Oh and my parents also took turns driving from Guwahati to Bathinda and that is one of my most cherished road trips ever! Across 6  states, with my family, in our car!), You can actually see the house from the main road, and my mum pointed to it and said, "once we settle down, I'm taking you there!" Yeaahh, she kept half the promise, She took me to the house, the day we were leaving Udhampur, I remember how rushed we were! We had to drive to Jammu and take a flight to Delhi in some 4 hours and we ran to see the house! Luckily, the new people living there were home and I got to see the house!! We moved into a beautiful beauutiful house permanently, for this posting. It had a huge lawn. Almost a field to the side and a pretty kitchen garden. The house was one of the prettiest ones too. Our boundary had wild roses mainly with 3 bushes of the curry leaf plant (?), this led to 2 jasmine bushes and a huge bunch of night queen. This was right before an eight feet cactus plant. Inside, we had seven (ya! That's just crazy) Papaya trees that bore such gigantic papayas, the tree would break from the center unable to bear the weight. Then we'd keep the papayas in gunny bags for them to ripe. We had a beautiful kitchen garden. I don't think we ever bought vegetables here (I don't think our neighbors bought any! Our garden grew enough for the colony). We had everything at home. Potatoes, tomatoes, onion, We had our personal chane ka khet to dance in, 2 guava trees, a Mango tree, 2 Lemon trees, 1 Keenu tree,We had mini cornfield growing in one corner that we couldn't even get to. We had 2 Mulberry trees in the backyard, Sweet peas at the back (That huge rabbits would come and eat) 3 Scarecrows that were no good, 1 set of parallel bars and a Chin up bar that was where we literally "hung out".
Whew! So now you know, This house was brilliant! This house was on the peak of a hill and standing in front of this house, We could see the snow capped Patnitop (which we'd visit almost every other weekend in winters) When we'd walk down the hill, we could see the the Vaishno Mata beautifully lit up like a golden necklace in the hills. The lawn in the front of our house was where I'd sit to study for my exams on winter afternoons. Strategically placing my legs and feet in the sunny area and my face shielded from the sun thanks to the numerous trees around. The same lawn was the venue for 2 of my birthday parties and countless sessions of female bonding and gossip! Oh how I love this house, In fact, if I had to choose my favourite my 3 favourite homes, The one from Harchura and this, would take 2 places of 3! Of course there's a third one! That's why I chose 3!!

House # 15 Secunderabad (AP) This was the first non Army (forces) house I've ever lived in. For a few months, that too. Since there was no vacant accommodation to occupy, and we dint want to eat the unappetizing mess food for long, we rented a house near school. My brother and I would walk to school, him, 10 minutes after me! I guess I've always been the 'real punctual and obedient child', and he always managed to look like one! The best part about this house was, that we finally had a house and that was it. Looking back now, the fondest memory of that house was when mama and papa got Hugel home. That's all.

House # 16 Secunderabad (AP) This was the MES accommodation we moved into from the previous house. On the first floor, we had nice terrace with a tonne of potted plants overlooking the scary city traffic and the creepy swing you'll read about later. It was a colony comprising of one block of a Capt's accommodation and half a block of Major's. Downstairs, there was this swing I spent a lot of time on, primarily because everyone else found it too creepy as it was right under a Banyan tree! I really don't know how a chicken like me, never found it creepy. I scare myself dishing out "chudail" stories even now! I mean I sleep with the lights on and I need to stop disclosing everything here! You see how I'm not talking about the house much? I can't say I hated it, I cant say I loved it. A ton of my family members (not the immediate family) said it was weird and ghostly and all that but honestly, after living in a "renovated bhoot bungla" my mum rubbished it! Plus she doesn't really scare easy anyway! I wonder who I get it from!
Point is, it took me all the energy my chocolate cake that I baked today (see it here!) to talk about this house, but I still wont say I hated it, because honestly, I dint!!

House #16 Ahmedabad (Gujarat) This one was a very very typical regular army house. The big deal was that it was a typical house in a regular block in a proper cantonment after Udhampur (actually, after Bathinda)! I know that it almost looks like I hate Sec'bad, I don't! I'd be mad to! I have family here! But then, you know, nevermind.
So Ahmedabad, the best part about this place was the cantt! It's probably the only other place in India (besides TN (I've been told, dint experience it first hand))where people would insist on speaking in their native language no matter how bad they see you struggling (In my case, especially if they see you struggling!)!)I agree that Tamil might be a little tougher to understand compared to Gujrati, But come on! I'm being so obvious asking for something in Hindi and so are you responding in Gujrati! It's almost like you're going out of your way man! But then, maybe it was just me, because the rest of my family seemed to have no problem, in fact, they loved Ahmedabad (Because they never left the cantt). But then this also meant that I spoke fluent Gujrati by the time I left Ahmedabad and was mighty proud of myself and secretly enjoyed being one of the 'Gujrati speaking, torturing outsiders' people. It's all forgotten now, sadly! I loved the cantt here but. It was my safe heaven, where people would speak Hindi/ English and I din't have to go 'su?' every time I din't quite get what was said and I'd go swim every single day at GKOI/ Gymkhana club. After RSI Secunderabad and the Secunderabad club, I think I love the Gymkhana club most. Maybe. Just maybe. Ok, so our home here was a rather cute one. With a pretty lawn in the front, a huge backyard with a lot of trees and a ton of peacocks and peahens being regular features in it! There was this dog who lived in the backyard, who graciously took us in and in turn, I bought him a blue collar and my brother christened him a rather controversial name, that I obviously can't talk about here. Let's just say it started with A. Much like the Pretty Little Liars secret character, if you may! Ok so where were we? Right the house! I really want to talk about my papa being super macho here, but I'll let it be. He read my blog a couple of times ever since he discovered it, thanks to Facebook and he'll be embarrassed! Oh and he already made comments about how his life's on the internet! So I'll let it go. We had this really old driver there, whom we called baba, he lived in the servant quarter upstairs. One fine day, he professed his love for A and A responded positively and baba took him in! They made quite a couple! There was also this big, orange tabby cat that came home every alternate evening, and scratched the kitchen mesh door. (We later found out that she went to every house in the colony and did the same drill) My mum would feed her and stand guarding, so she could eat, without A shooing her away! Mamma called her Goldie Hawn! Lol you know, after Kate Hudson's mum?! Till she realized she was a he and for the lack of time and imagination, rechristened him Garfield. This reminds me, My mum and dad would cook and feed the dogs and pups before getting ready for school/ office in Udhampur too. Yea, a very animal loving family ours is! Cut to next year, Zorro came into our lives and our family was complete. I remember going to the airport with mamma, papa and Hursh to receive him. We must have waited for a little over 15 minutes till we saw this rather scared looking man push a cage on a trolley. Now the cage was quite big, but the issue was, the puppy (the size of a young Labrador) was bigger! I want to go and smack that stupid man who though it was okay to stuff a pup in a cage like that! The pup in it looked so scared and confused, poor thing! I wanted to run and get him out of there and hug him! But the bigger issue was my otherwise composed mum shrieking "That's a grown dog! That man sent us a grown dog!" But I ran anyway. The best part was how he started wagging his tail as soon as he saw me. This was my little brother. I knew it like I knew it the first time when I saw Hursh, 15 years his senior! We got him out and the first place we went, before home was the super famous Hanuman temple (I am a believer) the entire cantt is named after. (The cantt is called Camp Hanuman btw, It is said that when the revolt against the British raj started way back in 1857 in  India, the Indian soldiers met up at secret places to plan out what we know today as the Sepoy Mutiny. It started in Meerut, on 10th May 1857! The ones in Ahmedabad met in this Hanuman temple, which is quite famous and is a part of the present day Ahmedabad cantt. Hi! My name is Ikya, and I'm a history nerd, other than being quite patriotic. Also, my birthday is on May 10th, so, you do the math!) So bottom line is, end of this Summer, I moved back to Hyderabad, to finish college.

House # 17 Hyderabad (AP) This was probably one of my most favourite times ever! I moved into our house (actually the house next door, my cousin's house) with her! Now my cousin (6 years my senior) and I are very very close, She and I living together meant a party! This is a regular apartment and I felt like a grown up, doing grown up things, living like a grown up in that house and my sister made it even better! We'd cook every night, read for hours, watch TV, talk forever, finish all our work, and watch movies almost every day! Like most places, it wasn't just about the house, but it was the life there! It was just one of the nicest times ever! Half of which I can't even talk about here!All I can say, is that it was a party! Okay, no, That's just bull*hit. We did have the best time, we did have a lot of fun but we din't do anything unmentionable, But then this post looks so much cooler, if we did!

House # 18 Secunderabad (AP) My dad got posted back to Secunderabad, and I moved back in with my family, By this time, my mummy and daddy (I call my mum's elder sister mummy and papa's elder brother daddy, Oh and they're married to each other, so it fits!) moved back into their house, the same one haunted by my sister (their daughter) and me for some months!
Now this house, remember how I said there was a third favourite house? This was it! Just the prettiest, oldest, one of the nicest homes ever!! The first time I laid eyes on it, I couldn't believe a house like this existed in the middle of the city, in Secunderabad, for Christ's sake! Where in Hyd/sec'bad would you find a house sprawled across 1 and a half acres?! It was the hugest house (with a compound) I've ever lived in! [The house in Harchura din't have a compound/ fence at the back, so technically, the tea gardens we a part of out backyard] And that's not only why I love it so much! I love it because it made me feel like the kid I was once. A believer. I know, I zone out and you're probably imagining me be all Jai baba Bholenath, But no, really, This house had that effect on me. Still does. And I'm not, you know. You know what I'm talking about. So back to this house in Mudfort (That's what the area is called), This used to be barracks of the British officers when they lived here. So every room was connected. A linear design, only the army can make houses of rooms that open side by side, into each other! I'm not complaining! Because, every room opened out too, into one lonnggg varandah! And mine was the first room, which opened into the dining room and my bathroom had a back exit too! But you know, I feel a house like this, which brings gazillion opportunities, to scam all over the face of earth, was kind of wasted on me! That was the time my "peers" were sneaking out post midnight, to scam and then crash at someone's house. At my home! It housed the world! There was a lawn in the front of our house, a decent size,  demarcated by the alternatively placed red and white bricks at an angle. The most typical of every army house! But you know what wasn't? The strange orange tiles (that you'll find in photos of my earlier posts) Every room was SO huge! This was the first time since getting huge walnut furniture from Srinagar, while in Udhampur, did we actually use it! Not just some of it, all of it! We used our beds, the huge ones that perfectly fit in that house. My bathroom was the strangest and ugliest, but I loved it! I cleaned it everyday and it still managed to get spider webs and a whole lot of dust and dirt by the end of the day! This was because the bathroom, floor, and everything else, was slopped, dangerously (one Rakhi morning, I fell and broke my back here! *pokerface*), and the roof was so old and rickety, it shook every time a plane went overhead (almost touching the extremely high roof!!) and God knows what fell from the roof all over the blue bathroom! But here, I stopped getting scared of the million lizards living in false ceiling of my bathroom and we actually started co-existing, not bothering each other, entering the "real bathroom space" only when the other wasn't around. I also had to promise the lizards and my family, that I'd stop screaming and shrieking every time the lizards fell from above, all over the bathroom, (a couple of times on my head and shoulders and arms) when they fought or some stupid newbie pilot thought our roof was his runway!
I don't even remember the number of trees in this house. Oh wait, there was the main lawn, then the one after it, which had a boundary of curry leaves and night queen, and 4 custard apple trees, then the area to the left, with the huge Gulmohar tree under which I parked my car sometimes and sat on this rounded rock. There was a 100 meter distance between the main gate and our house, so we had regular 100 meter races to open the door! Oh and to the left corner, there were more custard apple trees and a mango tree and lots of curry leaves bushes (?). On the left side of our driveway(the one we had races on, yes, we had a driveway, stop gasping!) there was a cement slide! (you can gasp now!) that was right next to 4 banana trees. This is where we went into our backyard from (This was about 2000 sq meters in area) Our servant quarter was bigger than the double room mess accommodation and in between the servant quarter and our house, there was a huge water tank, and under it a cemented spot where Zorro took his weekly baths! (he got quite dirty here regularly, because he'd run around madly like me and Hursh) Right next to Zorro's spot of bath, were 2 guava trees, that almost forced into our teeny tiny (veryy small for the huge house) kitchen, and on the other side, was a huge mango tree. There was a baer ka ped (which attracted a lot of kids from all over the area, at least once a week, they'd come over to pick some!) on the other side. Here is where I'd reach if I got out of my bathroom! (did I forget to mention that my bathroom had an exit too?) The most important thing, that you might have guessed by now, is that this house had a hugee sloped roof. But inside, we had false ceilings, because the structure was too old and we wanted (the Army wanted) to let the pigeons and other fauna continue living there. I can't shut up about how gorgeous this house is! In fact, if you'd ask my friends, they'd tell you the same, and most of them are architects, so you should believe it's a big deal, ya?
Sure, it flooded every time it rained and for the first few months, the lizards and I did scare each other a lot, but then, If you're reading a beauty blog, you know that if you are pretty, everything else is forgiven, right? (Ok I'm really joking. You're not shallow, I know that. Err neither am I!) So that's that! There are a tonne of stories, but those, are for other posts! I'm sure none of you reached here anyway, this post is so long, I can probably talk crap here and get away with it, but because I don't want to be embarrassed when I read it later on, I wont! boooiiiikaazzoooiiiii (I got tempted! Note to self: Please don't give into temptation now on).
There are some pictures of that house on this block. Old thatch roof, wooden fencing  blue veranda tiles, yeah, that's it! Here's where I started blogging!

House #19 Secunderabad (AP) This is the house I live in presently. It took me over a year and lot of renovation to finally like this house. I think our "Oh I love you, whatareyousaying?! I love you too!" moment happened this Diwali when I was doing all I could to put up lights and make weird looking rangoli (that I had to explain to people was Ganesh ji and everyone, I kid you not, everyone said artistic! I mean, look for another word people! I know what artistic means!! It means "Dude, it looks nothing like it should, you've just doodled here, but your dad is right here giving me the warning look that says "I'll beat the crap outta you if you make her cry! She sat all day in the sun and drove me mad to get green and purple colour so you better like it!" and he looks like he means it, so, err, Artistic!"  But I was happy with it, I though my Ganpatibappa looked rather cute! Today it's a cute, half done house with bare walls and huge windows, beautifully lit and airy with only curtains that can qualify as "interior decoration". At this point I'd also like to take the opportunity to finally say something I've been dying to say and scream out for so many years, (mainly because I'm pretty sure that no one is reading this right now, and I'll have it out in the open, yet manage not to offend anybody) but you know how I am, I'm a nice, polite person. I don't say mean things, But seriously, people have got to stop calling themselves architects just like that! I mean, do you go around calling yourself a lawyer, just because you advised your chacha not to buy that property? or do you call yourself Dr Madperson because you told your neighbour to take an Asprin when she complained of a headache? No, right? If you do, there's this place called Agra, in India, that you must visit, not for the Taj Mahal! So, please don't call yourself an architect if you went and bought matching bed sheets and curtains for your cousins bedroom. You could probably call yourself a decorator, but then I'm sure the "real decorators" will have a problem with it. No, you aren't allowed to call yourself an interior designer either (still with the bedsheets and the curtains example; or if you like placing stained glass here and there, that isn't very different either, no.)! It is real, technical work, with gazillion detailed drawings that you wouldn't understand unless you studied them, at school! Or maybe under an Interior designer. But under no circumstance, in this era, are you allowed to call yourself an architect unless you have slogged that bottom of yours for a minimum of 5 years, spent at least 9 months every year wide awake, only on red bull/ gatorade, been humiliated in one of the 100 jurys you've attended, have been mistaken to be a terrorist while carrying your roll pack/ T scale at the airport and have a degree that reads B Arch./ Bachelor of Architecture. Please spread the word.
Phew! That was intense! Anyway, getting back to normal, I spotted a peacock today again, and picked some pomegranate and guava from the trees in our yard and baked in the long white kitchen I designed and I love this house even more today! Oh and for everyone who says (considering I'm almost lashing out anyway,) Hyderabad/ Secunderabad has only rocks, Where the hell are the trees here?! You haven't seen  much! It is one of the nicest places I've lived at, and if you hate it so much, leave! Just for God's sake, stop cribbing!

I think after today, I'm done nodding and smiling and rolling my eyes inside my brain (that is a thing, ok!) when people talk about how their architecture business is doing well. I'm just going to probably scream Nooo!! ask them politely, which uni, which degree, and if I hear anybody say, ehh hee hee not, B Arch, actually, I'm just going to scream again say "Oh so you're not an architect then, and shut my ears and scream la la la la la la  la la la la laa out.

*Disclaimer: this entire post was about my houses, my life and my opinions (my, being the key word here). You have every right to disagree, You probably haven't had the same experiences, but then if you did, that'd be kinda creepy! This post wasn't meant to be offensive to anybody! I take equal digs( if not more) at me and my people, as I have at some places here! That's probably not going to make any difference to you, but then, why should it?! I was just stating a fact!
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21 comments

  1. wow ikya I loved reading this, hv been a silent follower for sooo long...
    You write so so well girl :)
    I would love to see the pics of your three favourite houses cos the description was mindblowing!!!

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    1. Awww thank you for not being silent anymore Roshni! You're too kind! Thanks! :) I'm not sure I have any pictures around Roshni, which is mainly why I decided to write down everything I remember about each of them.

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  2. Loved reading your post! Actually the not calling yourself an architect thing made me laugh, especially the different examples you gave of different occupations, totally understand where your coming from and agree with you.

    Sita xx
    http://buttonsapart.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Eyy thank youu Sita! I'm glad it was funny! I was (still am) a little scared a lot of people will take offense! I sincerely hope not though!

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  3. Baloney that's a lot of houses, it's lovely that they hold so many memories

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  4. You've sure gotten around... haven't you? :)

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  5. Moving around every few yrs.. Man that's the best part! I miss it :-(

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    1. Totally! The best part for me was the fact that it's a brand new start every 2 years or so! A clean slate and a new beginning! I miss it too!!

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  6. I loved reading this 'finale' on your houses/homes. Ur Kashmir house sounds soooooo marvellous....just the kind of house hubby n I have pictured for ourselves post retirement (I've pictured, he's just agreed...I'm the day dreamer here and there are no limits/boundries to my mad dreams... lol). So u know gujju too...did everyone call u 'ikya ben' there??? Loved ur rant on ppl calling themselves architects....actually, I just loved reading ur whole post :)

    Btw, iv put a link to ur so chaud review on my post about it.

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    1. Oh, and I can't stand lizards either....I scream n shriek like crazy...cockroaches have d same effect on me too.

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    2. Hii you! I'm so happy you liked it! Is it? Why am I not surprised?! That house is what dreams are made of! Actually, they called me Ikya Di. I started liking it by the end, but I'm scarred for life! Mane nathi aavadti, Gujrati. Woohoo you posted about it already!!
      Oh I don't dislike lizards or cockroaches! They'd just give me a scare by falling all over me! :P Cockroaches, I'm not scared of at all!! haha

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  7. Another silent reader speaks up :) You, ma'm, are a treat to read! I thought I was cool enough, having grown up in 5 cities, but you've far surpassed my coolness :P

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    1. And YOU have totally made my day! Thank you SO much!! You're too kind with all the appreciation despite the million mistakes I made that I haven't corrected yet! :P

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  8. well, well, it must have been an experience of its kind to have moved to so many places......and it is not without a reason that army kids are so adaptable and multi skilled.....your blog posts would stir nostalgia in many army-kids-of-yesterday turned to army-wives-of-today.

    Being an army wive, I am just gearing up for the nomadic life that awaits me :)

    Keep blogging and I finally got hold of your page.....and am gonna keep a tab on this page from now on.

    Cheers & God bless...!!

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  9. It must have been an experience of its kind to have been brought up an army kid. And I believe, your posts would stir fond memories and nostalgia in the many army-kids turned to army-wives who would have gone through these posts.....must say, so well written..... :)

    Keep blogging.........

    Cheers & God bless...!!

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    1. Thank you, thank you soo much Narayani! So nice to see you here!

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  10. I am just replying after being brought back here after your cosmo post and then looking up and seeing "army brat" and clicking on part 3 to find Bathinda Cantt. I loved that station. whenever I have told people outside of the army lifestyle, they relate bathinda to you know what backwards punjab town. No one knows what happened in that cagey mil station. it was bliss living there, especially at that impressionable age. did me good, I know. :) funny enough, my early schooling (pre-KG n stuff) was in secunderabad. :D you write eloquently and it strikes a chord. A sharp major.

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  11. I love bathinda cantt.. loved it as a fauji brat n love it now as a fauji wife..it rocks..rachita reporting live from bathinda cantt..

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