It's always nice to think back to the sepia tinged days on one's childhood. After 7 years of living around the world, my family put down roots in Luz - a leafy, tree lined avenue in Madras. It was wonderful. We were surrounded by madisaar clad mamis who took rikshaws to the market - their diamond earrings almost blazing in the mid day sun. Boys who played cricket at the corporation school ground down the road. Stray dogs that used to sleep in the shade of the mobile isthri vandi that was positioned outside our gate. It was wonderful. After years of living in high rise apartments where one would have to call neighbours before visiting, here I was free to wander in to 64/4, would be cajoled in to the house behind ours for cold home made ginger-lemon juice and was often employed as a messenger bearing sweets, invitations or news to the other denizens of our little world.
I lived there for 11 years. And then was whisked off one day to Bombay. And from there to London. But every year I go back to my old neighbourhood where I'm reunited with the people who have seen me grow up. The balding septagenarian upstairs who would correct me every time I made the same mistake when I sang Bhairavi. The family down the road who's eldest son would give me joy rides on his new motorbike when I was 12. Our family doctor, conveniently located right opposite our house - often roused from sleep to treat my viral fevers and my sister's wheezing.
New people have moved in. And some old faces have passed on. Many of the traditional bungalows have been replaced by modern apartments that stand out like an eye-sore. But some things never change. The stray dogs (grand children of the roads pioneers?) still snooze under the isthri vandi. The old mami behind our house still offers me her home made juice and the Doctor always asks how I'm doing. The anonymity that living abroad offers one may have it's own advantages, but sometimes I do miss living on a street where everyone knows my name
Here's a reminiscence of a street of a different kind.