Monday, April 28, 2014

My Childhood home



One of the seven hills of Nainital
The  image on top of this page is one of Nainital town in the Himalayas. My childhood home in Nainital was just around the center of this image, a little to the right, now behind the cloud on the hill.  This was the area where most army families stayed because it was close to the military Cantonment. As a child of four or five I loved to climb up to window height and look at colorful sail boats in the lake. On rainy days there were no boats but it was nice to look at the patterns the rain water made on the window panes. The same hill is shown in clouds in a Picture I snapped a few years ago from the opposite hillside.

I spent a lot of time in the spacious open kitchen too, especially at times when mother was away to meet her friend by the name of Tunnu next door, where our wonderful cook and family guide all rolled into one - Hira Lal - who belonged to a nearby town of Almora and had learned his skills and English with a British Brigadier who left for England, before he joined our household - would turn out delicious curries, mutton chops or minced meat cutlets wrapped in mashed potatoes that tasted a lot like shephard's pie but have a spicier filling. It was a time when the family ate much more meat than now. Nowadays I am a lovegan food eater for the most part although presently I get chicken too at times to share with a cat who loves it. The kitchen was in a separate section connected to the main house with an open passage and it contained a huge old fashioned wrought iron oven and stove from the previous century. During my childhood we had meat regularly but chicken was rare because it was far more expensive as compared to meat then and was reserved for special treats only. Nowadays, it is the reverse and chicken is much cheaper.

I still recall how Hira Lal would beat in bits of ginger, diced onions, garlic and herbs into the mutton chops with a little kitchen hammer to flatten them out, then dip in a batter of eggs and roll in bread crumbs before frying them golden brown in a pan. I have tried the recipe in later life but they never turn out the same as with Hira Lal who stayed with the family for a near decade before retiring to his village in Almora. My mother said it was because he never got along well with my dad, but then most of us did not :) with the exception of my younger brother born in Nainital and currently a Lt. General in the Army. The cook Hira Lal in a novel I wrote - Nude besides the Lake (see here) - is modeled on the real life Hira Lal and was given the same name.

In summer relatives from the plains visited and an uncle has often told a story of early fifties that I myself have no memory of. He said he was in the flats and saw that a baby show was being organized to select the cutest baby of Nainital. He thought I was very cute and ran all the way home to other side of town and grabbed me for the show. There was no time to change dress, and rushing back in time for the competition to begin, he entered me in dirty clothes but he said I won the competition and became Baby Nainital that year. LOL, I am hardly that cute if you see me now.

By the edge of the lake in an area called the flats was the only cinema hall in town, just a dot on the image below. It is beside the lake in a flat portion of town. My Mother said that she took me for a show of the famous movie ‘King Kong’ there once and I recited incidents from the movie for a long time after. The hill on the opposite side had schools and a picnic spot called Tiffin Top. Our family and friends would walk up to it on holidays. Even at the age of four I would walk up to it all the way briskly without feeling tired as I have been told many times by my mother. Nainital was a lovely town in those days and still is but not as lovely as then because of over development in parts, especially where our home was.

Nainital Lake, photo by author

In this green lake town full of majestic oak and pine trees, wild flowers and mountain springs lay the seeds of my love for nature and thoughts on life and spirituality as expressed in this blog from time to time over the last seven years, seeds that once having sprouted were nurtured in different far flung parts of the globe wherever life and career took me.  This blog was launched in 2007, soon after receiving inspiration to do so from a spiritual friend and guide, Haidakhan Babaji who taught at Haidakhan in the district of Nainital between 1970 and 1984. Essentially his teaching consisted of just around two sentences. love God, recite his name as a meditation (Jap);  promote love, truth and simplicity in your life while reserving some time to serve others - humans in need, animals and nature. He has been described in my book - The Babaji Affair (see here) and another blog exclusively on Nainital -
http://nainitalgoddess.blogspot.com

Taken as a whole, the thoughts expressed in the various posts of this blog  present  a system of thought for life and living, a system that is not rigid like religious systems tend to be because it is assumed they are God's words although they are spoken, written, described and interpreted by man, but instead they are open to revision and continuous improvements with further study just as scientific thoughts are as are all thoughts born of an imperfect human mind. 

The Nainlasians or many Nainitalites like many wise souls of Nainital, an exceptionally beautiful portion of our planet, believe that no one system of philosophy or no single human has a monopoly on truth and knowledge. All have a bit of the infinite God in them and all contribute some  good to the world just as all have a bit of the devil in them too and contribute pee, defecation and stench both metaphorically and literally. Life is an endless quest to evolve and increase the worthy, joyous and the beautiful in life while reducing the worthless, painful and ugly.
Although one may benefit from education in numerous aspects of life, spirituality and spiritual relationships are based in  the highest and purest form of love and therefore do not require the intervention of guru or counselor  unless such relationships are badly damaged, with a fair chance that an incompetent or fraudulent one would damage it further. However one may refer to a teacher for limited periods for learning techniques like some of meditation, prayer or yoga even as one refers to a teacher for learning reading and writing for limited periods or for help in resolving ethical and moral dilemmas, discuss the mysteries of the spiritual side etc.
Genuine spiritual teachers do not latch on to you and often ask you to leave after some training unlike fraudulent ones who latch on like a leech and make a big fuss if you leave their fold even as many religions do. Those are the ones to run away from as fast as possible in my view because the Lord gave freedom of belief and pursuit to all and those who deny that could be agents of the devil if not degenerate lowly humans.
Aside from that, just the love of a loving human parent or child  is enough to re-establish a spoiled relationship between parents and children; just the love of God, the divine parent is sufficient to re-establish any spoiled relationship with Him, for His love exists eternally without change and his books illustrated with colorful wild flowers are all over the trees, lakes and mountain streams, especially in lovely places like Nainital and the lakes of Austria.
Delight in His eternal Love that flows freely without charge, cost or labor merely because one is His loving child.

1 comment:

ashok said...

As with many other of my significant posts this one too has undergone revisions and extensions since it was written yesterday. But it is final now , hopefully :)