It used to look different. We had a cemented thada (patio) that was nice and cool to sit on on hot summer evenings. It used to become a family and neighbours hub at night when there were long power cuts.
During monsoons it used to be a hub for flying termites because they were attracted to our front light. Gosh how everyone hated those! There are some things nobody can ever get used to and I think they belong in that list.
Ahead, there were two rose bushes – a white one by the kitchen window and a red one by the bedroom window. Every year we had nothing less than a 100 flowers, and the constant nuisance of passersby plucking them.
Along sat a sweet lemon tree that never bore a single fruit. But I watched caterpillars growing into butterflies in its shade.
In that same little front garden I also witnessed for the first time a bird raising its little ones. Her nest was low enough for me to view the progress everyday. Fascinating to say the least!
The street in front doubled up as my playing ground. I played so much hopscotch that I had a heel injury needing rest and time out for a few weeks. At age 8, I think.
Across the street was a sunny patch that didn’t grow anything, nor was it paved. It was like an unofficial extension of our front yard. Mom used it for a line to dry clothes. Mataji (grandma) for a portable foldable bed in winter – peanuts, carrots, oranges all inclusive. It was also perfectly used for group celebrations (I learned to overuse the word ‘community’ much later) such as lohri.
Not visible here was an adjoining open staircase to the flat above. That was reserved for some jumping games. It was also where I toppled so many times that I built a (now permanent) legit fear of falling from stairs.
20 feet away was a pulia (culvert) where I’d wait in the evenings for mom to come back from work. She had a helpful routine that meant she’d appear in the distance at 18:25 every day. Then I’d wave at her, she’d pull out a little toffee or treat from her handbag, and that was it until the next evening. She used to quickly get busy with dinner prep, next day’s school prep, etc after a glass (not cup) of tea that Dad used to keep ready because his return was always a few minutes before hers.
To the left was a huge mulberry tree that used to leave the road surface red with all the fallen fruit. I had zero appreciation of it because I didn’t like its taste the one time I agreed to put it in my mouth. To the right was our neighbour’s vegetable patch, which I continue to appreciate even now because it was a practical learning ground for how potatoes, carrots, cauliflowers and the likes grow and I dream of having my own farm one day.
We moved out when I was 10 years old. I now feel surprised at how much detail I remember. And quite astonished at just how much time has passed since then! This picture says it all though. 533 of the ’90s looked nothing like this at all. It certainly did not have two air conditioners or an office chair outside.