It’s been such a long time since I posted anything on the blog at all. Why? Well, there is the ‘I-don’t-have-the-time’ excuse that is conveniently used to explain all sorts of oversight – some egregious, some shocking, and some quite mundane. But, I think the biggest problem I face is I am not sure what to write about on my blog.
Of course, this is a dilemma of my own making. After all, I decided to call my blog ‘The Bhelpuri Blog’? I wanted to make a merry medley of all things nice and spicy and tangy and sweet. Against the wisdom leading bloggers, I decided not to create a niche blog, limited to one specific topic. “Why bind creativity?” I thought. “Why shackle imagination?” I wanted to write about it all, except now, I am writing about nothing at all!
But then again, I believe that odds and ends are the flavor of life and I think I can trace the exact moment when my fascination with all things odd and eclectic began.
My family is from South India; Kerala, to be precise and I have visited my ancestral house just once in my whole life. For as long as I will live, I will carry memories of that house. They are not vivid memories – I was really small (not even knee high, as the expression goes), but whatever hazy pictures I have of that place are indeed precious. Some come and go with startling clarity while others make me feel like I am watching an old fuzzy print of some black and white movie. The orchard in front of the house, a well in the courtyard, the sound of a stream that flowed nearby, a tiny, wild path that took us into the neighbor’s farm, the swing that was hung from the tree, an army of palm trees, and perhaps a cow or two as well (or were they goats?) … I am not sure where reality ends and imagination begins.
My grandmother was the sweetest old lady you could find anywhere on this planet, and she allowed me a free run of the entire place, much to my mother’s dismay. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get enough of this freedom. Welcoming the change from the metropolitan lifestyle of Delhi, I ran around like a mouse trying to ferret out as many corners to the entire place as possible. I looked like a monkey, dressed like a street urchin, and had more fun than was possible.
Apart from running wild in the orchards and fields, I was fond of exploring the house. Like I mentioned, it was our ancestral home, built according to conventional Kerala style, reminiscent of the days of old. There were rooms after rooms after rooms, each more interesting than the other and each containing curios that stood testament to some period of history. If they could talk, they’d regale you with first hand information of all the events that they’d witnessed.
Of particular interest to me was an ancient chest that stood in the store room. There was nothing exceptional about the appearance of the chest, but since it was old, black and covered with dust, it excited my imagination. After days of agonizing over what amazing treasure it could hold, I opened it up one day.
I was absolutely fascinated by the things that were piled into it. There wasn’t one particular item that caught my fancy; everything in the box was priceless. I remember picking things out and turning them over and handling them delicately, trying to figure out what they were and how they came to be lying in the box.
Exploring that chest became something of a ritual. Sometimes, it was some old vessel used in ancient kitchens (maybe some adorable grandmother half a century ago had cooked a delicacy for her equally adorable granddaughter), at other times it was a piece of a richly embroidered cloth (for a ravishing bride, maybe?). A broken locket, an old toy, some notebooks, a broken bulb, a few quills, a magnifying glass encased in a leather cover, some other weird looking thing I couldn’t make head or tail of….and lots, lots, LOTS more. All the odds and ends of the universe seemed to have found their way into that chest.
One never knew what I would fish out of the chest next, and the mystery and anticipation gave me a delicious high. Also, all these mysterious things lent themselves beautifully to the grand stories I’d cook up in my head. Needless to say, playing with the things in the chest was the high point of the vacation and it was with a heavy heart indeed that I bade a tearful goodbye to my inanimate companion.
Today, in an age of aisles stocked perfectly with shampoos and lotions and a corner for meats and one more for vegetables, I miss the odds and ends that will fire my imagination. Everything is so organized these days. Your shoes match your clothes, your clothes match your accessories and your overall appearance matches that of at least a million other people. In such times, I yearn for the odds and ends I discovered when I was a kid. They seemed to defy a routine or a pattern and that is what I find refreshing.
I guess now you know why my blog is what it is. Some people have a theme; I have none. I want to fill it up with curios that will excite and interest my readers, and yet, escape being cast into a certain stereotype. I think a huge part of me hopes to recreate the same feeling of wonder that I experienced as a kid solving mysteries in her ancestral house, and having the time of her life!