Weekly Photo Challenge – Nostalgia

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WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge – Nostalgia invites us to share nostalgic moments brought to the fore by the change of seasons.

The changing seasons has heralded the “festival” season in India – they are lined up one after the other from august onwards till December and provide the perfect excuse for family celebrations and friends get-togethers. It brings back memories of college celebrations and the nostalgia of college days. Ceramic figurines were our preferred gifting option specially by my friends to me because of my love for the same – and these now form the centre-piece of my little collection.

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How do they know?

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It is a source of constant amazement to my parents of how much I remember of my childhood, even as early as around the age of four years. Some of the memories over the years seem to be the product of my active imagination superimposing images from the stories told by my parent over the memories of places that I had, however some stand out very clearly as distinct experiences – like the day when mom carried me around for ages with a cold compress till dad could get home and take us to the hospital for stitches, after I had cut my head against the flower bed brick border. Or that evening when dad walked us a to a hitherto unseen area to pluck flowers and the kaleidoscope of impressions of the day – the lovely colours of the setting sun, the shower of pink blossoms bursting through a creeping bed of green leaves, parrots squawking as they returned to roost and the simple joy of being with loved ones. That childhood bubble of joy still channels through the years and hits me every time I look at the golden hues of a setting sun.

When I was around six, dad was posted in Arunachal Pradesh and we got to spend our summers in this eastern extremity of India. My memories are filled with towering mountains, lush green vegetation, gushing streams, roaring waterfalls and the weird creature – leech. Besides the fresh water black blob variety the higher altitudes also had a grey-green terrestrial variety of the most tenacious kind. One just couldn’t complete a stroll through a grassy green without having a couple stuck on. They were also very hardy and could tolerate high dosages of salt before they would let go. This one time when we had gathered some wild flowers dad found a minuscule one crawling on one of the twigs. As soon as dad picked up the twig the leech changed directions and “charged” (if that’s possible while crawling) towards dad’s finger. When dad held the twig by the other side the leech promptly changed direction and headed again for the hand. As my six year old self watched the movements of the leech in awe, the only thought in my head was – how does it know where to go??!

My Love Affair

Manipal – a place which came under my radar only when by some random chance of fate I achieved a decent score in the CAT exam and on looking around realized that only a couple of colleges still had their application processes open, in which short list figured – TAPMI, Manipal.
Manipal popularly know for its ties with Sikkim and mistakenly assumed to be situated in Sikkim, actually lies in the heart of Udupi district – famous for its temples; and on my arrival there for the interview process I was attracted to the quaint place which though situated in agrarian Karnataka, had all amenities of a metro due to the large student population residing there. As luck would have it I got through the interview process and our course began plumb in the middle of the glorious monsoons that annually hit the coasts of India.
New acquaintances were made in the middle of fights with the management for better hostel accommodation, ragging from seniors and the deafening downpour of the monsoons in full spate. Within the cocoon of the college life I grew not only terms of academic knowledge but also in terms of worldly wisdom. Strong friendships were forged amidst the exhaustively cataclysmic course schedule and I learned how to work with groups of sometimes accommodating and sometimes not so accommodating people, learned that life wasn’t fair and that one had to take it in ones stride, learned that there were still people in this world with whom one could connect within minutes of initial interaction, and that no matter how much you despise a person everybody has something new to teach you. Despite the draining schedule or maybe because of it all of us appreciated the beauty of the place and exploring the pristine beaches and trips to the waterfalls nestled within the Western Ghats were always on top priority.
As we came close to the end of the two years course and looked forward to the ROI for the rough grind that we had gone through, the universe dealt us a tough blow – global recession. Placement scenario was bleak and while floundering in the sea uncertainty and hopelessness, Manipal came to my rescue again. I got recruited by the namesake organization – one interview and I was hired. Although I had spent two years in the place, I was yet to have any major interactions with the local populace. With this job I got from knowing Manipal as a cluster of tourist spots to knowing its people – their culture, their language. Barring their strong sense of community which wouldn’t allow easy entrance to outsiders, the people were charming. Their mild manners and lack of ambition hid behind it a superior intellect and strong family values.
Luck was shining on me – being a greenhorn and uncertain of the work culture, I found in my boss the best possible mentor. Although an outsider as far as the organization was concerned his people management skills enabled him to push through his ideas. With his guidance I learned the ropes of organizational management – the macro perspective as well as the mirco perspective, a combination I may not have achieved in any other organization or under any other boss. I was also blessed with colleagues who soon became close friends and partners in crime for bunking office to make quick trips to Goa, explore the verdant loveliness of the Western Ghats, catch the latest movie or catch up on the latest office gossips.
Due to the change in my marital status I moved to Mumbai – a change of location and a change of role, within the same organization. Within one month of being in the metro I was longing for the open skies and fresh air of Manipal, so much so that an official trip to Manipal had me jumping for joy! However, as with everything else, the passage of time and the increasing demands of my new role made me acclimatised to the conditions of the metro.

Now as I head towards the last few days in the organization I couldn’t resist making making a parting visit to Manipal. As the vehicle wound its way up from the town of Udupi to the hill that is Manipal many changes were visible. The process of urbanization was catching up with this town – roads had been widened at the expense of huge shady trees, quaint terracotta tiled houses were replaced with multi-storied buildings, even the temples were showing ambitious construction plans. However, the view of the sky was still untouched by sky scrapers, the people still talked with gentle politeness, they still worked with that mild mellow manner so typical of the Udupi region, the view of Udupi from the hill was still spectacular; and as the countdown begins to end my romantic tryst with the place and the organization, I can’t help but think …
“I hate to go and leave this pretty sight, I leave and heave A sigh and say goodbye”