"Okay, let me tell you a story," she says. We were on Face Time and I was thrilled that she wanted to talk to me for more than a minute this time!
"I'm all ears," I replied tentatively, still not too sure that I'd have the pleasure of her 'royal' presence for a great length of time.
"One day Little Blue, Red Riding Hood was walking in the big black forest..." she began.
"Who is that?" I interrupted.
"That's me. I have a blue riding hood today. I have a yellow one too but it's dirty." It was obvious she didn't think much of my question as it was quite obvious why she was 'Blue Red Riding Hood'!
" Now who is going to be the woodcutter and who is going to be the saviour?"
"Saviour?" chips in her papa, surprised.
"Yes, saviour.....oh you can be the saviour papa! And you can be the woodcutter," she says pointing to her mom, "and who will be the Gramma?" she continues.
"I am the Gramma," I say happily stressing the "am".
"No, you're not," she says, stressing the 'not,' "she is the Gramma," and she points to a picture of her Nani, "you are the Big...Bad...Wolf!"
I was in splits. Could both of us be in the same frame without something interesting happening?!
I love being her Gramma even when it means that I'm the "Big, Bad Wolf" in Gramma's clothing!!
It's monsoon time in India and although I am not there I do have the pleasure of winter rains in Chile.We aren't experiencing heavy showers very often, but dark skies and cold moisture laden breeze in winter do a lot for the mind, body and soul. Walks on such days are so enjoyable and invigorating. Whatever time of the year, winter or summer, rain brings so many simple enjoyments of life. I do crib sometimes if it gets in the way of work, but how much can I crib when the aroma of pakoras and gulgullas frying makes me drool! Then of course there's the hot cup of tea...ginger or cardamom or just plain tea....I make myself comfortable in the sit-out and stuff myself with pakoras and sweet gugullas, sip my tea and watch the rain...lovely.
I have a tutor, 'K.' She's thirty-four, old enough to be my daughter and very sweet. She's patient with my stuttering, faltering speech which is ridden with abominable grammatical errors. She's encouraging no matter how often I display my total inability to recall what we did fifteen minutes ago. And God only knows how she tolerates my articulation which is a mixture of English, Spanish and French pronunciations gone wrong.
She doesn't mind my tea breaks and is equally pleased to drink Indian tea with me. It is quite a nice experience to be on the other side of the table in a class after being on the teacher side so long. I make lame excuses when I haven't done my tarea (homework) and fib when I want to bunk class! She sees through it all as any experienced teacher would and chooses to ignore it as long as I am enthusiastic about being in the class and learning...how much I learn is all about getting the 'horse' to the water. Whether it drinks, doesn't drink and how much it imbibes depends on the horse...and she has an aging mare to deal with! I sure admire her for sticking it out so pleasantly. But on a genuine note, I do enjoy my study session with 'K.' It certainly is one of my simple joys on this sojourn.
In India it is the norm to address a known elderly person as uncle or aunty, as the gender demands, and often even strangers are addressed by these terms out of a sign of respect. In bigger cities, these days, the norm has changed with shopkeepers, cab drivers and hospital, and office staff using 'sir' and 'ma'am' instead. However in the social context as with neighbours or general public, you become an uncle or aunt of all and sundry. Abroad one doesn't expect to hear it unless one is with a desi crowd,and then too only with non-immigrants. So, I was surprised when a young girl from this place asked if she could call me 'aunty' too, like the other Indian girls did. Why did it please me? I didn't give a second thought even when my domestic help, back home, called me aunty...it was expected and accepted. I suppose it was this very reason why her request made me happy...it was not expected, it was not the norm. It was a decision she made, for whatever reason, I didn't need to probe. It was enough that she wanted to call me aunty. Just another simple joy in my life here.