Little girl and bear


Bear and I sit down to eat. 

What about Miao the cat? Does she eat too?

Bear needs help.

Not me, I can feed myself.

Bear, why can’t you feed yourself?

I like your spoon better. You can have my spoon.

Say, your food is nicer too.

What kind of Indian am I if I do not eat with my fingers!

Poor Bear, you must be hungry. Here is some of my food. This moving food is delicate business.

And hard work


The chooks: #2 Girl names


I have paid for four amazing birds and depending on availability, they could be any four of the following heritage breeds:

Blue Orpington, Black Orpington, Light Sussex, Silver-laced Wyandotte, and Barred Rock.

Giving our pets names is part of the excitement, isn’t it? The Blue Orpington could be Beulah or Opal. The Light Sussex, Susie. I thought Sylvia might suit the Silver-laced Wyandotte, but my daughter Prisy prefers Dot. We have not thought of a name for a Barred Rock. 

Prisy and I disagreed on my choice for the Black Orpington, however. 

Should it be Orpah or Oprah? Prisy said that I should not name her Oprah because she is a Black Orpington, because people would think I was racist. Now I had not even connected Oprah’s ‘blackness’ with the blackness of the bird till Prisy mentioned it. My thoughts behind the name were firstly that it sounds like Orpington, and the fact that Oprah the woman was fashionable and popular. 

But now that blackness had been mentioned, I am itching to name my gorgeous gloriously-black bird Oprah. Moreover, the rather plain-sounding Orpah might suit a Buff Orpington, but surely a dashing Black Orpington has to be Oprah. (Black Orpington Vs Buff Orpington) I haven’t decided yet, and one in five, I won’t get to own a Black Orpington this time.

Locale and Region when setting up Redmi Note 4

Locale and Region when setting up Redmi Note 4

I got my dad GB and myself new Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 phones.

Having been purchased on line via TradeMe, the Redmi phones came to me from Hong Kong. The manuals were in Chinese, who reads manuals anyway, but the adapter plug was of the New-Zealand kind, which is nice.

It is not often that one gets to configure two identical devices simultaneously. Only these weren’t identical, at least in this one System & Device setting. GB’s phone asked for ‘Region’ whereas my phone prompted me to set the ‘Locale.’

And neither Region list nor Locale list included New Zealand. My Locale list was a notch better as it has Australia in a group of countries that seemed to have been tacked on at the bottom of the list as an afterthought. For GB, I selected India. (The photo does not display Australia now that it has been selected.)

The time display on the Screensavers immediately changed to the times of the respective timezones. Had I made a costly mistake?

Naturally I looked at the Clock next, going straight to the ‘Edit system time’ item.

Under Time Zone settings, I needed  a to switch off ‘Automatic time zone’ and manually select the right time zone.

Thankfully, dear old Auckland featured in this list.

Great to see both phones displaying New Zealand time.

Moral of the story: Go ahead and buy Redmi Phones on line . . . I think.

The garden project


Projects are good as long as we do not lose perspective.

The wise King Solomon in researching life, had this to say about projects:

I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. . . .I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. . . My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

Well, I undertook a major project in the beginning of 2016, which took me a year to finish.
Like most of the homes in Auckland, our house had a lawn that was fenced off. On the sides were a few plants and even two Olive trees, which had been planted by the previous owner. But the grass had taken over even along the sides, having come through the weed mats. Unfortunately, I do not have a good Before-project photo, although you can see the depressive state of the section through the rosemary bush.

But I wanted to make the garden more interesting and in my mind’s eye, I saw an English cottage garden. So I drew a rough plan on paper of garden area and path area. Garden and path would be separated by means of proper edging, comprising two layers of brick and mortar.

I began to dig my ‘trench’ for my edging. It took me about three months to complete what turned out to be 45 meters of trench.

And then the bricks arrived with high drama, and that was when I realised that this had become a really big project, and I was doing it without any help.

I watched a few Youtube videos to learn how to lay bricks, and quickly set out to lay my first layer. I was almost done, when the rains came, and then the cold set in, making it impossible to work in the garden. To the uneducated eye, which was not a rare commodity and came with tongue attached, the place looked all dug up and hopeless.

After about six months, I was able to resume the work. This time I decided to hire a young man who mowed lawns along with his little team of helpers.

The second layer of bricks were laid. The top soil that had been displaced by the digging had to be disposed of. I got the men to remove even more of the clayey topsoil from the garden area, so that I could replace it with topsoil of good quality.

Visits to the nursery sections in Bunnings, Mitre10, and Kings Plant Barn were a joy. And of course, I came home with some plants every time.

The path area had to be made level. We added a layer of sand followed by a layer of fine metal called GAP7 and compacted it.

Next, we carefully placed black rubber stabilisation mats called JakMats. Finally we covered the JakMats with small decorative stones called Gold Rush or Waikato Fleck.

I am not a fan of weedmats, prefering to weed the garden on a regular basis. A layer of bark finished off the garden area. A cheap garden arch, a cheap wooden bench, and a cheap wooden bridge, all from TradeMe were installed to declare the garden project complete.

Today, five months after this photo, many of these new plants have established themselves, and the garden looks even more settled. As long as I am on top of it, the weeds are easy to manage. I am pleased.

Vijaya my friend


[Part 4 of Series Two days in Bangalore]

11 August 2016. On our way back home from Commercial Street, I noticed that Cavalry Road had been renamed as Kamarajar Road. As we passed, I took a picture of Sivanchetty Garden Road.


It looked unchanged—ugly and chaotic as I remembered it. I would use this road to walk over to Cavalry Road from beyond Lavanya Talkies (this is the other word for cinema and pronounced ‘taakees’) where I lived from 1974 to 1977. 

Looking back, I did a lot of stuff that my parents had no knowledge about. They did not ask and I did not think to tell them. I came as a 10-year old to buy a snack called Bangalore Bajji, which was available in a little eatery on Cavalry Road.

On Sivanchetty Garden Road, a lady had a little shop, where she sold interesting things like kites through a window (must have been a window) that opened out to the street. I always stopped to chat with her. She was kind and used the endearing term “da” when she spoke to me. 

I have many more memories of my walks through this area. Perhaps the heavenly city will have an old-earth facility where we can play back these things and perhaps even ask questions of the angels who might have had our back. But I digress.

I did not realise that we had turned into Mosque Road because it looked different and I could not see the trees at first. But soon it became recognisable. With recognition comes more nostalgia.



Beautiful Mosque Road, which used to be peaceful in the shade of those lovely Rain trees, was far too busy now.


Then we passed Bethesda, the church connected with Clarence High School. The view of the church building from the road was different. In fact, I don’t thnk I even saw much of the building. I cannot thank God enough for the good that came to Bangalore from this quarter.


We turned left from Mosque Road into Fraser Town. In the picture, the white building is where many in this part of town learned to type. It housed the typewriting institute. 

Till 1979, those who completed the ICSE-board examinations would have a break of six months before they resumed their education in college as Pre-University students. Those six months would be the time to learn other life skills such as typing and shorthand. When I finished school in 1981, the old pressure of having to learn typing was still prevalent. I did not learn shorthand but went to this Institute to learn typing. I can still hear the din from two dozen typists doing their exercises.

Our next stop was at the neighbourhood where I spent the years from 1978 to 1986 —Williams Town Extn sandwiched between Williams Town and Pottery Town, on the other side of the railway line from Fraser Town.



Even as we approached the area, I noticed many changes, but the familiar things did things to my heart.


We passed these Ganesha statues ready for the Ganesha-Chaturti festival in September. Hindus celebrate with lots of tasty snacks and poojas after which the statues are immersed into rivers and lakes nearby.


This was it, a street parallel to the one where I lived. My first impression was that it looked so unkept. While Premi akka and Hannah waited in the taxi, I took a little walk, turning left into the street by the man you see in the photo above.


The read and white striped wall is the temple. I had to go in because I was looking for someone.


I saw an old woman inside and asked her where Vijaya was. She looked at me oddly and went to get her daughter.

My old house is on the next street, and that is where I first befriended Vijaya. Every night at about 8:00 pm, she would come with her father and mother and make their bed outside the shutters of a shop opposite our house. Vijaya’s mother, that very old lady who had gone to fetch Vijaya, would sweep the ground and then spread out the mats and sheets, making it as cosy and comfortable as she could. So every night when my parents and I slept in our bedroom, Vijaya and her parents slept just outside. Her father was always completely drunk and was very loud. Vijaya’s mum easily warded off any blows in her direction, shushed him and got him to lie down. Night after night it was the same. Some nights it rained, and it was miserable.

One time when I got the chicken pox and was confined to my room for over a week, my only companion was Vijaya with whom I had long conversations through the window. We seemed to have so much in common somehow. 

Her father died of liver cirrhosis and they were allowed to stay in the temple in exchange for taking care of the place.


Vijaya walked towards me very slowly, obviously unwell. She looked at me for a while before asking me if I was Selvi. Yup that is who I was. I had grown healthy and strong and she was withered and tired. I said that I was taking a quick walk around and would she come with me. I took her hand; it was clear that she was running a temperature.


We came to this wall that said Excellent English School. It is a Muslim school that began when I lived on this street. At the time I found the name of the school hilarious. Then we turned left again.


My house is the third one on the left.


When we lived there, it was painted white and looked much nicer. It sits on a little 30 ft x 30 ft plot that was sold to us by my 4th-Standard teacher Mrs Katary. We loved our years here. Many of my life’s milestones were experienced in the years we lived here. Great is His faithfulness.


Vijaya sweetly modelled for me in front of my house. That window behind her is the one we used for our long chats. The house had been called Yesu Illam, meaning the Abode of Jesus.


Opposite the house and to the left, is the Marvadi shop still. The men there were watching us curiously. I turned to them and told them that I used to live in that house before. Then I told them that I knew their family actually. I told them that I remembered that the family had many children and the two little ones at the time were Rakesh and Kamlesh, who would be running around. The man who is standing in the photo said, “Madam, I am Kamlesh”. We all burst out laughing. 

I remember going over to this shop to buy paper covers made of colourful wrapping paper—so convenient for gifts. They in turn remembered my mother’s kindness to them. These boys would remember my parents, who lived here for about a decade after I married and left.


My walk was turning out to be like a square. On our last turn before we got to the taxi, we passed this chapel. When we first settled here in December 1977, this building was a little Reading room, where the public could go to read the daily papers. The next thing I knew was that it was a Roman Catholic shrine of sorts. Initially, I don’t think the temple behind it, where Vijaya lives, or this shrine had any legal status. Young people from both sides competed to hold religious celebrations one after the other, getting louder and louder every year. It was especially hard at exam time. A generation later, both facilities probably have gained repectable status, and along with the mosque on the next street, everyone coexists peacefully. I think.

In those days, in my house, my friends and I held what we called “Saturday School” for children in the area. About 50-odd children attended regularly, and we taught them good habits like not littering the street and lessons from the Bible and heaps of songs. I wonder what became of them and if what they learned then has impacted them in their lives.

It was time to let Vijaya go. “God bless you, my friend, I can only leave you in the good hands of God. He knows best what needs to be done.”


On our way home we saw more Ganeshas.

Ramaraj and his family


[Part 6 of Series Two days in Bangalore]

In the morning of 12 August 2016, my friend Ramaraj came with his young son Rithvik to take me to their home.


His wife Ramya had made an elaborate breakfast, which I thoroughly enjoyed.


After the meal we played Pass the Pigs, a silly dice game with two plastic pigs.


This family had set the whole day apart for me to take me wherever I needed to go, and I am indebted to them for their many acts of kindness over the course of the day. Our first stop would be the house of my childhood from about June 1974 to December 1977.


On the way, I could not resist this shot of a guava seller.

We had lived close to Ulsoor lake in an area called Shree Kodhandaram Layout. The lake was where it used to be but had an ugly fence around it. In my day we had a bench on the pavement to sit and enjoy an unhindered view of the water. This was how it was for the rest of the place. The main landmarks from 40 years ago were the same but the peripheral things had changed big time.


This is the front view of my home. The building had six apartments, three on the right, which are not visible in this photo, that were used by our landlords and three on the left that were rented out. Of these three rentals, we lived in the first floor and the well-known Leong family lived below us. I think the house above us was empty, for much of the time we lived there, for I cannot seem to remember who lived there.

I have many memories of these years, some bad, but mostly very pleasant. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the elderly Chinese grandpa and his dog Tintin. I enjoyed hours of fun with the Leong girls, Sophie, Shirley, and Sharon. And also with their boy cousin Iyeen.


In those days , the room with the curved window shade did not exist. That part of the house was our back balcony and had a water tank. I spent many hours seated on the water tank, watching the world go by. From my perch up there, I observed the construction of several houses, notably the white-coloured one that can be seen to the left of the photo. If I am not afraid to use a trowel and mortar today, it must have been from those endless fascinating hours of watching walls come up.

The window below the airconditioner, belonged to what was then my parents’ bedroom. One evening when my parents were out, drowsy with Periactin, an antihistamine for my eczema, I was asleep in that bedroom and could not be roused. After knocking and shouting for a long time, it was Iyeen who climbed the guava tree that grew on that side of the house, and called me through the open window. I woke up quite confused to see him through the window. Today there is no trace of that tree nor of the pomegranate tree that grew next to it.


This is a very precious photo indeed. I know the banister and these gates so intimately. In this case, unlike the rest of the house, even the colour is very similar to what it used to be.

A somewhat-elderly man came out to ask  me what I wanted. I told him that I used to live here 40 years ago and asked if he had known the Kodhandarams. He said that he was Kodhandaram, who used own all the neighbourhood. I peered at him and realised that he was the young man I had seen when I lived there. That he had owned the whole area was a bit exaggerated. It was true that the family had owned much land in those parts, but even by the time we resided there, much of it had been sold. The name Sudhir comes to mind, but I could be wrong about the name. However, I knew his sisters, Chithra, Durga, and Nithya. I asked after them and was told that Durga was in Australia.

Time passes by slowly when you are watching it, but turn away for a bit and it’s gone.

Ramaraj then drove us to Brigade Road. On the way, we passed one familiar-but-yet-so-changed road after another. M.G. Road was a shock to me. Where was that old grandeur? And as for Brigade Road the old charm was missing.


This photo shows Rithvik and Ramaraj looking at a little water-feature item. It took us a while to figure out what the mechanism was. We then had lunch in a so-so place before going to Richmond Road to see Baldwins, about which I have written in Meeting a Baldwin-Girls girl.


Poor Rithvik had waited and waited for me to come out of the school and had fallen asleep out of sheer boredom. He is such a sweet and well-behaved boy.

As I had an important meeting with my Clarence-School classmates that evening, we headed for home.


On the way, we made one small stop at a clothes shop. I made a purchase, but my credit card did not go through, Ramaraj paid and would not let me pay him back.

I do not have any way of returning the kindness I have received this day. But I must pray faithfully for this family that they may be blessed with the most important things in life.