No words, only pictures:
My grandmom, Inna Aji, passed away in April. Some of the quiet days this summer were spent thinking about her, and I didn’t feel like posting on other topics until I’d written about her.
Inna Aji lived a rich and varied life. From her youth in Junner, to traveling through different parts of the country with my grandfather, she mastered the art of making friends, learnt swimming well into her 30s, and played badminton with ladies half her age for as long as she could. She had a massive database of ‘six degrees of separation’ – on meeting any new person, she quickly interrogated them about their life and background, and found some old connection, however far-fetched. That included a number of my friends!
We loved her goodies – oil-free pickle, ‘pohyacha peeth’, chivda, and she loved eating them too. As we did her home remedies – masoor dal face scrub, ghee lip balm, nail polish hurt healer. And giggled at the upturned ‘bhanda (read in Marathi भांडे)’ on the doorstep if you were waiting for someone to return home. Not to forget her make-or-buy analysis everytime we went out to eat. Every new place I moved to, she would want the postal address, and sent me quarterly postcards, until she stopped being able to write and switched to the telephone. I could barely read her writing, but guessed at the contents because they rarely changed – we’re ok, my health is good, are you fine? Stupid me, didn’t save a single one!
Inna Aji had a predominantly practical nature and a pretty modern outlook. She was eco-friendly before it was ‘cool’. Preferred not to fuss. I know she had her share of discord, and was by no means perfect, but she was a lot of fun. Sounds like the perfect granny mix that she was. We chose not to mope but to remember, and moved on, in her honour.
After Aarti and Souvik came to visit us in Vancouver in June of last year we decided we had to come visit them in Jakarta. Pia and I thought it would be an amazing adventure for our family and specifically our two sons Ravi and Jaian so see part of the world that is VERY different to Canada. When my sister Andrea found out about the trip she was so excited she decided to join us. The boys were more excited to come because they were told that there was a pool at Souvik and Aarti’s Jakarta house. We could have been just about anywhere in the world and the boys would be in paradise with their own private pool. They were not quite ready for the culture shock if an enormous Asian city but they are getting used to it every day.
With Aarti as our tour guide we soon learned there would only be so much ‘pool time.’ A Busy Life of Leisure is no joke. Let me tell you we are sure kept Busy! In Vancouver the only time my family gets up before 6am is if Santa has stopped by the house. But in Jakarta if we haven’t left the house on some adventure by 6:15am we would have been in big trouble. Usually that trouble was traffic trouble. Good thing my family was still dealing with jet lag and waking up well before 6am naturally.
Our first adventure was experiencing ‘car free Sunday’ in downtown Jakarta. Souvik and I rode bikes to the city centre and Aarti and the rest of the family drove to meet us. What a sight! By 6:45am there must have been 20,000 people on the street, walking, running or biking. It looked like one of the biggest marathons or running races you would see back home, except most people were just out for a nice Sunday stroll. The other thing that amazed me was the variety of dress. There were many bikers out dresses up lite they were going to do the Tour de France but there bike did not match clothing. Then there was runners many of them very serious and they looked the part. women and men in small little running shorts and tops. Looking at this crowd you would never have guessed it was a strong Muslim country.
After the Car Free Jakarta experience it was crucial we get a good breakfast after all we were with Souvik. 😉 By 8:30 we were in a nice little breakfast spot enjoying coffee and pancakes.
By the time we got back to the house it was about 10:30am but felt more like 5pm. Busy life of leisure is definitely not an understatement.
The Verma clan breezed into Jakarta this month, bringing with them the chaos they are best known for! Aparna kicked off the visit with her usual noisy greeting at the airport, and quickly learnt the important words in the local language – terima kasih – thank you, to be spoken to every Indonesian orang she met.
The kids were moderately impressed with the pool, and ecstatic over the 100+ dinky cars on display. They did their best to make friends with Mia, who did her best to stay away, so they shifted their affection to Souvik’s prized collection of animated movies by Miyazaki. Souvik chuffed with pride at this development 😉 While Nishad bravely ventured into the deep pool, Sana modelled her swimsuit and cuteness, and Souvik was a willing slave to her ‘splashy’ demands.
I took this opportunity to be sillier than the kids; Aarti Maushi was a source of extreme amusement, shrieking when the zebras and llamas wanted to chew my hat, or the elephants blew into my face, at Taman Safari. We heard and sang along “dil dhadakne do” endlessly ‘one last time’ in the car.
One barbecue, some fun dinner parties, a quick trip to Bali, car-free Sunday, sightseeing and shopping sprees, exotic fruit discoveries, and before we knew it, the Vermas were back home in Mumbai with plenty of promises to visit at our next destination!
Mom & I went to meet my grandmother and niece (and all the uncles and aunts and cousins in between) in Pune yesterday. Amidst lots of food and laughter and conversations, we managed to get together for a split second, for this group picture, featuring 4 generations:
It was a delight to meet Inna Aji after a couple of years, and of course, Shravani for the first time. There’s close to 80 years separating these two: