Archive for April, 2012

We’ll be moving to our new home over the weekend and even before we bought the furniture, I decided I wanted a liquor cabinet! Since I don’t drink, everyone in the family was highly amused! My point was ‘so what, if I don’t drink, my friends who’ll come over do.’ I don’t see any issues there.

I am, of course, hoping that my friends, who I hardly ever invited home, will come over now when I do invite them!! So when I announced my intention to get a liquor cabinet, a couple of my colleagues and friends visibly brightened up with “when’s the house-warming?”

Now every day, whenever she finds the time my wife’s been, very carefully, packing the crockery and the rest, and I’m seeing stuff that, I thought, had vanished into the blue. From the top shelf of one of the cabinets in the kitchen, she suddenly brought down the miniature bottles of all varieties of booze – which I thought she had quietly polished off! Since I haven’t touched the stuff for the past 13-14 years, who else could it have been?

But there they were, some of the finest Scotch, White Rum, Bacardi, different liqueurs, wines etc etc in their mini bottles. They are now lined up in the liquor cabinet at our new home…to be admired. My mother-in-law might throw a fit when she discovers that the madira, albeit in small doses, is in place even before the puja and the pedha! Hopefully, she won’t be reading this piece till after the weekend!!

I remember there was this grandfather clock that actually belonged to my grandfather – Roman letters, exquisite wood carvings that had to be wound every 24 hours. My brother decided he wanted the clock to adorn his living room, after it had been with me for some years. I was okay with him taking it, since there was something else that interested me more.

That something else was almost a family heirloom – an exquisite Japanese tea set which belonged to my mother. That it has remained intact without a piece missing, broken or even chipped is a compliment to my late mother, aunt and wife, who have protected it zealously, all these years through our travels. Even when we moved cities, the tea set went with us and not with the rest of the luggage that arrived by truck.

Even my brother and sister-in-law tried quite hard to convince my mother and then later me that they should be allowed to take it with them when they left India and then at various times when they came visiting, but I refused to hear of it. I always wondered why I resisted, because I don’t think I’ve had tea in those cups more than twice or thrice in my life! I guess, it’s just one of those things!

I have seen a picture in one of the family albums where my mother is seated near the late Dr. Zakir Hussain, who was then the Governor of Bihar, in 1959. My mother told me about how the Principal of the Sundarmati Mahila Vidyalaya in Bhagalpur, where she taught, pleaded with her to serve the refreshments to the governor and his guests in the Japanese tea set! She reluctantly agreed after getting an assurance that it would not be handled by the college peons! My cook Kishen was the only one allowed anywhere near the crockery. The line, “Didi ki jaan isme band hain, zaraa sambhal ke istamal kijiye” became quite famous in the college!

So (as the story goes). when the governor picked up the teacup he is supposed to have exclaimed “What an absolutely exquisite teacup! Where is it from?” My mother was only too willing to give him the details! Needless to say, that she was over the moon.

On Sunday last, when I was carefully cleaning it, I realised that it must be at least 70 plus years old, because my mother got it as her wedding gift! So you can guess why I am terrified to use the tea set.I don’t think I’d ever forgive myself if something happened to it.

It’s already been tucked away securely in one of the kitchen cabinets, where I am sure, it will lie, till we decide to use it for a really special occasion! I think the last time we used it was in 1995, and I think the next time we’ll use it, would be another decade or so away.