Thursday, April 24, 2008

The origin'al' chain

The temperature at my current station today touched 42degrees Celsius. At jodhpur, this year, my vacation has been a warm one, warm in terms of the progressing summer and also the intimacy shared with one half of my family in the 8 days that have gone by.

Jodhpur is the place where my grandparents (mom’s folks) reside and where my mom has spent few significant long years before she got married to Dad. This is not my first visit to the suncity but never before has the visit meant so much to me, perhaps because my years were too few earlier, or because my successive visits were made at very short intervals. After an interval of close to 3 years this time, I have come to know things that I was merely acquaintances with previously and also made friends with new places and experiences.

I have learnt to read the newspaper in hindi, tried my hand at using the datun (neem stalk used as an economical one piece substitute for both the toothbrush and toothpaste by rural folksmen and also health conscious city dwellers of predominantly the previous generation) albeit with failure, savoured delicious marwari delicacies prepared by mamiji, dined south Indian style with the food served on freshly plucked banana leaves in the middle of the desert, explaining to the diners the formalities of eating on the leaf and the the correlation between the direction of folding the leaf post dinner and the non verbal communication of having/not having enjoyed the meal, much to their amusement (Ref- the folding of the lower half of the banana leaf up indicates a thumbs up for the cook and vice versa), put on a few kilograms thanks to a daily dose of the original desi icecream, the rabri malai kulfi (a thick milk preparation served in a conical shape on a stick) which is inaccessible in Hyderabad, learnt to decipher a few words of marwari and utter a badly accented greeting in ‘mujro sa! Katthe jaoo so? Mhare ghar aao so ‘, (Hi there! Where are you off to? Do come home sometime- and the people here pass a warm smile even to the stranger on the road) and many more of these trivial likes.

The significance of this visit, however, lies in that stroll I took with granny in the neighbourhood park yesterday that acquainted me with my roots.With every step that granny took towards the higher generation while she recanted the story of one half of my family to me, I realized how little I knew about my origins and just how I had come to be. Not only did I know very little of the generations that exist only in our family's history now, but I also knew very little of the surviving generations viz., my parents and my grandparents. The lives and history of five generations now lie before me and I am now trying to identify which parts of me trace back to these roots. Chances are they are but few. Roots often germinate in a place seldom traceable, travel far and wide, crossing regions, states and countries, and the tree, as it grows, gives out seeds that again seek abode in far off places giving birth to a new being. Some of us travel with the roots and some of us with the seeds. I think I grew out of the seed.

For new sprouts like me, origins are thus tricky affairs. People say that I am half a marwari because my mom hails from the marwar region. Its like saying to my kids a few years hence, that you are half a telugu because your mother hails from Andhra pradesh. Amusing!

Right now, however, I am getting geared up to discover the other family tree that I am part of when I visit the other set of my grandfolks ( Dad's parents) during the next week. To more discoveries!

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