#9

"My Mamma (nani) was a helluva woman. I only can look back at her life and now acknowledge and celebrate her life as she lived through her very tough life with a smile on her face. She was born to a very strict family and was married at the ripe age of 16. She spent her life taking care of her kids and her husband through a very tough life , worked jobs, walked her kids to school, lived in a house that was only half-constructed with no electricity or bathrooms and moved homes that redefined her way of being every single time and took her far away from her own family. But she always said "Life is good" in the worst of her times. She lived with us for 13 years and through those years i saw what a strong and spirited person really looks like. She always spoke of the good things in life, she cooked like a ace- her varan and puran polis are the best I have ever had. She has her knees operated at 83 and literally smiled in her pain as she steered back to health. Our fondest memories are of her narrating how nana came to meet her at her girls hostel and was besotted with her, how her skin never needed creams to glow, and her just sitting on her chair reading her papers while some rock music blared from the stereo next to her (she never ever asked us to lower the volume, because the music meant we were in the same room as her!). She was a rock star and like none other."

 

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#8

Grandma.jpg

"Most grandmothers love to cook. Not mine! My grandmother or Ammachy as I called her, liked the outdoors better. Even on hot afternoons when everyone else was taking a nap, she’d go to the backyard to pull out weeds or to kill a chicken. She rarely used the washing machine and instead, beat the life out of heavy paisley patterned bed sheets on the washing stone. She always had home remedies for everything – a mixture of ground nutmeg, yoghurt and sugar for a tummy ache, a slimy paste of hibiscus and black pepper leaves for healthy hair. Whenever she opened her cupboard, there was always that reassuring smell of starched pastel saris. Sometimes, I would help her fold the crispy, sun-dried saris and in the evenings, we’d sit by the kitchen steps and eat ripe mangosteens from the garden. This is probably one of my favourite memories of us. She also liked it when I painted her nails in outrageous colors like neon pink or fire engine red. She was a remarkable woman who was never afraid of anyone and did what she pleased."  

 

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#7

"Dora (my paternal grandmother): Dora was a beautiful Goan woman who had spent most of her life in Africa. She didn't look Indian - her hair was dark and thick and curly, and her skin was light like white sand on the beach. I called her Dora because since I was little, I heard my parents calling her by her name. She taught me how to eat chips without making a sound; she would cook a massive pot of crab curry for my brother and myself and put us out on the porch, armed with little hammers because our hands were too small to break the shells. She also had jars of snacks besides her bed, and every evening, after our afternoon nap, we would drink tea and have coconut macaroons and chakli and potato chips. It was great. She didn't study much in a formal school, but knew so much about plants, about gardens, about making things with her hands. She taught me to live with grace, practicality and creativity, and for this I love her.  

Aji (my maternal grandmother) is a legit Bombay girl. She learnt to drive a car on Carter Road long before there was anything else there. She had long, beautiful black hair that flowed past her waist and eyebrows that would put Frida Kahlo to shame. Perfect. She grew up with 11 siblings in a beautiful house in Khar, and I only wish I lived there at that time too! I have so many beautiful memories with my Aji - baking pineapple upside cake on summer afternoons; making mango icecream in an old bucket ice cream maker; and more recently, teasing the jackfruit seller next to Tulsi Bagh when he tried to sell us some fruit that wasn't fresh. I also learned to drink Campari when it's hot; put Grand Marnier on my vanilla ice cream and wear tasteful jewellery all the time. My Aji has lived all over the world, and has absorbed the cultures into her being, learning their nuances and intricacies and sharing these with other people! I only hope I can do the same as I too travel and explore the world."

 

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#6

"My grandmothers were self made women. One lost her husband in her twenties and went on to study medicine and build her own hospital. She taught us that work is prayer. She never mollycoddled us, no pampering. She was a voracious reader, Premchand was her favourite. She loved to embroider too, made us pillows with our birthdate on it, very similar to your blanket.

My other grandmother had to start a catering business to support her family. If you remember, Sea Lounge at the Taj was the only five star to serve bhel, sev puri and samosas in the seventies. All of that was made by my grandmom. She still runs her business independently, well into her eighties, having grown her business manifold. She runs it brilliantly. This grandmom of mine pampered us silly, polar opposite of my other grandmom. She has the softest heart. Both these women in my life were remarkable and are my inspiration."


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#5

"My grandmother was a kickass, fear-inspiring, woman entrepreneur as early as the 40s with her own business in Colaba. She went to work everyday, put lipstick on and curled her hair, even in her 90s. She first ran a tailoring thing. She used to make Dolly Thakore's outfits back when she was a news reader. DT told me actually. Then, she ran a shop which sold little grandma things - handmade tablecloths, doilies, cross stitch everything. The shop is still around, just a bit run down. It's called Dit, and it's on Causeway, opposite Theobroma.

Actually both my grandmas were entrepreneurs. The other ran a catering business in Goa and was the perfect grandmotherly grandma - jam-making, brilliant cooking, sweets in her pockets, huggably round, and happy."

 

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#4

Today marks a year since my grandfather (who raised me) passed away so I thought I'd share a little story about him instead.

A couple of years prior I decided I was going to be the ideal granddaughter and bring music back into my grandfather's life.

In his time Larry was a music fiend. He made hundreds of mixed tapes and always had the best and most expensive audio systems. As a child, he encouraged me to take music lessons, and introduced me to my favourite musicals - The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Rags to Riches. 

When I grew older he helped me buy my first walkman, he got Worldspace before it was cool (if that was even a thing) but eventually technology got the better of him and the house turned quiet.

I decided I would create a playlist of all the songs I remember him listening to and loving, thinking this is going to take me up so many notches on the favourite grandkid scale, these other fools are not even gonna know what hit them. I spent days researching and downloading songs to my grandparents' laptop - Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Gene Kelly, Nat King Cole, Elvis, the works. I sat him down one afternoon at our dining table and pressed play (rather chuffed with myself, not going to lie) and the first two songs played but as the third song began, he looked right at me and snapped -

"What's all this old shit? Play something new."

#3

"My maai (dad's mum) was the most badass woman I've ever met. And the best cook too. I am a professional cook and I wish she had stuck around long enough to see me do this. She would have been thrilled. My biggest sadness is that I will never eat her fish curry, crab, gaothi chicken, and so many other things ever again. My favourite memory of us is sitting with her on the kitchen floor, watching her clean, gut, cut and prepare fish. It would often be still leaping around, that was pretty weird for me as a child. We would buy live crab at the market and she would hold it in her hand and show me it's beady eyes, tell me how to catch crab and then slip it into bubbling curry. I loved watching her scale and gut fish on the paat. I think that's why I like doing fish prep so much even though most people hate it. She would tell me stories of growing up in the village in Kokan, going fishing and crabbing, how her mother cooked for and fed so many people, summers and jackfruits, tasting porcupine meat, roasting fresh catch on an open fire on the beach, eating oysters. She told really great stories and made the very best food and I miss her every day."

 

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#2

"When I was young and stupid my maternal grandparents lived with us for many years. I was very close to them and thrilled to have them around. One day, my youth and stupidity gave birth to the genius idea that I should give my grandma a haircut. I asked. She obliged. I was old enough to be able to use scissors unsupervised, but too young to know this was a terrible idea. She probably knew but indulged me anyway. And so I found myself snipping away at the ends of her hair, excited by my new project. I was proud of myself and stepped back to survey the results. It was neat, but askew. One side was definitely longer than the other. But that was something that could easily be fixed, so I went back for round two. I fixed it all right. It was now askew from the other end. I can’t remember how many tries it took me, but I finally got it right. Her hair was straight from the ends, but my 80-something year old grandma now had a very un-chic lob well before lobs were fashionable. I was upset because I had let her down so fantastically. She just smiled and said it was okay. I have so many memories of my grandma, but this one is my favourite. If she was unhappy with the haircut, she didn’t show it. She put her hair back in a clip and went about her usual business. But I haven’t cut anybody else’s hair since."

 

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#1

"My grandma comes from a very poor family in China. And when you come from poverty there's no such thing as women not working. It was a practicality thing. My grandma applied for a job in a factory in a secretarial role when the family found themselves in Shanghai. She had no training, no education, and there were 50 women all applying for only 2 roles going. The final stage of the interview was for typewriting, something so new to China at the time that she had never even seen one before.  She was the most unqualified person in the room, and she knew it. She could've walked away, defeated. Instead, through part paralysis part ingenuity she chose to stay. She stood and watched the other 49 women, one by one, use the machine with varying degrees of success. And then learning from them, she just faked it. And she got the job. Then she was promoted. And again, and again until she was the floor manager. Then she was the one in charge of hiring. This is actually the story of how she met my grandpa. At the factory he was trying to get a job at." 


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