From Chennai it was a short stay in Zaire, Africa. We had Lebanese and Pakistani neighbours.
Was back to chennai within a year. Could not be very friendly since I hardly saw them.
But we had a lot of South Indian and Gujrati friends around.
Pravin studied in The British School.
It was at the Indian Embassy in Zaire that I met Mother Teresa and hugged her. Will never forget the holy look on her face.
Was in Chennai from 1987 to 1991.
Then it was Hyderabad.
We were rented an independent flat owned by an aunt whom I knew since childhood in Kolkatta.
Had not seen her or heard from her for years and it was a pleasant surprise that she was a common fried of Venu too.
It was a momentous stay in Secuderabad from 1991 to 1994.
Aunty was thrilled when I parcelled Roti and curry over the parapet wall. She announced to all her friends that they had a roti maker.
Then it was exchange of food over the wall.
Uncle was a connoisseur.
Whenever some food was sent uncle gave me full marks and one day aunty said uncle has given 0 point today.
Pravin soon got friendly with their daughter Navina, my FB friend Navi Menon.
Uncle and Venu got along like a house on fire. (Sadly both not there now, but surely entertaining the Gods above). Both of them were really witty.
Aunty had 7 pet dogs and I really used to be scared going to her house.
There were other Malayali families.
Aunty took me to all houses to introduce me.
One family had two sons who were soon great friends with Pravin. They were very studious and always carried books wherever they went.
But their hard work didi bear fruit. The elder son got into AFMC, Pune and the younger son got into IIT Madras.
Both of them doing very well in their respective fields.
The odd one out was Naveena but she was no less than a boy.. All the sons from other families more or less Pravin's age soon got very friendly.
Venu and I too made good friends with everyone.
We soon left to a flat provided by the company.
Once while waiting for Venu at his office, I saw this very pretty, petite lady walking in with her tall and handsome husband and their cute 3 year old daughter.
Venu introduced them to me and said he had joined TOI office in Hyderabad as the manager. They were taken to aunty's house as she had a house for rent in her building.
They soon moved in and it was a friendship that still flourishes on Whatsapp and FB.
The neighbour's in the building where we shifted were mostly Sindhis from Pakistan.
The Sindhi lady opposite our flat was very friendly and used to gift me things whenever her Mother in law came from Pakistan to stay with them.
Her elder son loved the south Indian items I made.
It was indeed a momentous stay till we shifted to Delhi in 1994.
In 1994, we shifted to Delhi. The house provided by company was a society in which South Delhi college professors owned most of the houses.
We were given the ground floor. The building consisted of ground floor, ist floor and second floor each having 4 flats.
When we shifted, there was only one occupent. A retired college professor.
He stayed with his wife and 2 sons.
Somnath uncle as I fondly started calling him proved to be a very hospitable neighbour.
He was a great help in our shifting.
His wife Monica, I fondly called Didi too was a very helpul and kind lady. I admired the way she used to dress up. Will ever remember how she used to bring a bowlful of cooked black urad da[ since she came to know Pravin loved it. Whenever Pravin dropped in from Hubbali where he was doing his engineering Didi was sure to bring a bowlful of his beloved dish.
Since Uncle too had been a professor of English, we had a lot to talk in common.
Uncle was very tall and handsome and had joined college as a professor at the age of 24.
One day, I asked him if girl students swooned over him. he had laughed and said- Anu many of them.
He was a father figure to venu and me. He was a good cook and prepare delicious mutton.
He relished the south Indian dishes I made. Once had made pyellow pumpkin pachadi a Kerala dish. He mentioned while tasting it, he was reminded of his mother.
His younger son relished the idlis I made and was sad when we left Delhi for Chennai saying Who will make such nice idlis?
Had the good fortune to see uncle and Didi in 2003 when I was in Bangalore for my niece's wedding. Uncle and didi had come to Bangalore to their son's house.
My last meeting with uncle was in 2006 in Chennai when didi, he, his younger son and his American wife had come to visit Mahabalipuram.
Hearing of Venu's bypass, all of them had come home to see Venu.
It was unfortunate I was not able to visit Delhi after leaving in 2000.
Uncle used to be my FB friend and immediately joined my group when I invited him.
We were in contact till uncle breathed his last in 2020.
He would have completed 86 years.
Really will miss him and his endearing smile.
The neighbour on the second floor was a Professor and instrumention in getting addmission for Pravin in his college when admissions were closed. Will ever remember his kind gesture. Pravin was hardly there for a month when he got admission in an engineering college.
Two more neighbors were on the second floor. A professor in Miranda college. Also a friendly person. Will rememember their hospitality when we were shifting to Chennai. She along with her husband's mother arranged a delicious dinner for Venu, my mom and me.
The next door was a Kashmiri Pandit family.
We were invited for a brother's wedding. A traditional Kashmiri Pandit wedding with varieties of mutton.
Truly an awesome wedding.
One day saw a 3 year old standing outside the flat facing my flat.
The child seemed to be well behaved. Hee was standing quietly.
Then his mother came out. I was having a new neighbour.
This neighbor my FB friend Smitha Sharma Gupta whom I called Reena and her husband Piyush were soon to be Venu's and my true friends.
We were like family. For uncle it was a welcome change to have another neighbour next to his house.
The three year old, now a young man of 28 was really mischevious. Not as quite as he had seemed.
He used to keep uncle entertained. Venu being fond of children used to pamper him a lot.
It was at my place, he started eating non vep. His father was a pure vegetarian. Reena didi not cook at home but enjoyed the non veg dishes I made.
The 3 year old was seen all around the society as he used to go out without his mother's knowledge.
Very soon the flat next to my flat was bought by a South Delhi professor. She was the physics HOD. She had a 5 year old son.
The 3 year old and 5 year old soon became friendly and created havoc inside society.
Once had opened the petrol tank of a bike and spilled the petrol. The owner was really angry.
At a party being celebrated below our flat, both of them had run off with 2 lts fanta bottles, it was glass. The 5 year old managed to get it home but the 3 year old before reaching home broke it.
Two men had come running behind them and given a good piece of their mind.
Once, my sister had come from Bangalore to attend a wedding.
She had applied mehendi for going to the wedding.
The 3 year old saw it and burst out- mehendi lagake rakhna.
It was hilarious.
One day noticed both of them sitting on the stairs of my duplex flat and deep in conversation.
Their talk caught my attention.
The five year old was saying in Hindi- Maloom hai. Mera daddy gadi banata hai. (Do you know. My daddy manufactures cars). he was working for Dewoo.
Immediately, the 3 year old said- Aur maloom hai, mera daddy tyre banata hai ( and do you know, my father makes tyres). His father worked for Apollo tyres.
Very soon the 5 year old got a baby sister and two years later the 3 year old got a brother.
The little one too also turned out to be equally mischevious.
When we left left Delhi, Reena was truly heartbroken.
She wept uncontrollably.
But as fate willed, Piyush was transferred to Coimbatore.
It was a very happy Reena who came with Piyush and sons to stay with us.
Very soon, Piyush got a job in Chennai and and shifted with family.
Though meeting them was very rare as they stayed in Adayar and far away from where I stayed, they made it a point to attend all our functions.
Then they shifted to Mumbai.
Piyush made it sure to participate in Pravin's wedding at Guruvayoor.
When Venu passed away, Piyush proved to be a true friend. He rushed to Chennei from bangalore by flight to pay his last respects. It is very rare to have such good friends. .Happy to be in touch with them and their son on FB. I contact Reena daily on Whatsapp.
In 2017, I shifted to Bangalore.
Having been to Bangalore often with Venu, the place was not new.
Was friendly with a few neighbours.
After settling down, got friendly with a Bengali couple.
They were Pravin's next door neighbours.
Lata banerjee, my new friend was a very charming and a positive person.
She was an English teacher and kept busy on weekdays.
She came home every evening and we had a great time talking of good old Kolkotta.
It was a pleasant surprise when Shomu her husband said he had retired from TOI and knew my brothers-in law.
Another surprise was when he said he had passed out from South Point, the school I too had studied in.
He spent his time teaching children painting and playing the guitar.
Used to relish Lata's traditional Bong food and they loved the south Indian especially Kerala dishes I sent.
Lata was suffering from kidney ailment. But she always had a smile on her face and actively doing her school work.
Then her doctor told her to take it easy.
In spite of her ailment, she still came home with her grand children, her daughter too stayed on the same floor.
She had to undergo dialysis very soon. So did not come much. But I used to keep visiting her. Had daily contact on Whatsapp.
She and Shomu went off to Pune to their son. She used to call me up. She used to say she was not so well and had become inactive.
The son got a transfer to Bangalore and they moved in to another locality.
Lata's and my Whatsapp contact carried on.
She said the present house was very beautiful and spacious. I told her I will surely visit her one day. It was COVID19 and lockdown, so was not able to visit her.
Two days just after Onam in 2020, we got news that she had expired. It was a great shock.
I checked her messages and noticed she had not replied to many of my messages. I cursed myself for not following up. I could have at least called her to find out. I was not expecting such a cruel joke.
Then came to know she was really sick and God had blessed her by taking her away before she could suffer more agony.
I hope she is at peace wherever she is. Truly an irreplacable loss.
Another neighbour on our floor is my FB friend Somshurva Mukherjee and Ranjit Raman.
In fact Pravin's and Meena's friends who soon became my friends too.
A jovial couple. We had a good time till they shifted to the US. But the friendship carries on on Whatsapp and FB.
The end of My Neighbours.
Now don't think I will shift anywhere to find new neighbours and make friends.