Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"This Used To Be My Playground"

I just finished dinner. Cooked some frozen chapattis and heated up some pre-cooked palak paneer. It tasted pretty ok….. I could hear finger licking and lip smacking and it also brought back a lot of memories. My mom makes the best paalak paneer . It used to be such a treat to discover it was paalak paneer and chapattis with curd (I love curd with chapattis) for dinner when I got back from school. My school days re-defined routine (trying to avoid the word boring). I lived in a nice residential colony in the suburbs. There were a couple of us friends and we all went to the same school and later to different colleges but remained friends. We used to go to school together, come back together and after a quick snack we would take our bicycles and cycle around our small world. Those were the regular days. The exciting days were the festival breaks, the summer vacation (woohoo!!) and the one day school picnics (well, the only ones I was allowed to go). Once school closed, we would head to the public library and I would get a stack of famous fives, hardy boys and nancy drews and read them almost all day, everyday (yep even in high school), much to my parents annoyance. For some reason my parents thought only studying school books qualified as reading habit unless it was the encyclopedia! I am thinking if it was in the US, the school authorities would have called social services by now and have had a “discussion” with my parents for being discouraging.

None of us had any boy friends (well parents would have skinned us alive if they knew that we even knew a breed called “boys”) but we all had our respective fantasy crushes. For a long time I was in love with Julian (famous five) and remained loyal to him till I discovered Star Wars and Harrison Ford. I never felt like falling in love with real people and real characters until much later in life but by then I had also figured prince charming is a myth and so is unconditional love. The pain of knowing…damn!

Now imagine the power of a couple of frozen chapattis and pre-cooked packaged palak paneer to bring back all these old memories . I miss my childhood, I miss my school days, I miss the feeling of being in a small comfortable world with the only thing that bothered my silly little mind was an impending class test and the only two emotions I was truly familiar with was joy and occasional sorrow.

So much has happened since then. All my friends have moved on with their respective lives, none of them live in the colony anymore, except their parents and like me they all visit. My dad passed away, and mom is getting old and tired. I seem to be drifting through life encountering lot of people, getting into a lot of situations, wanting to get out of a lot of situations, seeing and hearing too much, learning some, unlearning some and experiencing emotions of varied type and intensity,- some logical, some illogical, sometimes wondering if I am depressed or is it just a sad phase, sometimes scared to express happiness for the fear of getting jinxed and a whole lot of other emotional crap. How and when did everything become so complex and weird? Whatever happened to the comfortable familiarity of two emotions –happy, sad. Oh man!...I want my routine (boring) childhood back. I want my life in the suburbs with my parents, my cycle, my school friends and home cooked palak paneer and I want to fall in love with Julian all over again. And , it is not a strange coincidence that I am listening to Madonna's "This used to be my plyaground".