Terraces

9 Jun

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In keeping with the previous post and the attempt to find/feel contentment as much as possible, it’d be a crime to not talk about terraces and the role they play in finding and feeling contentment. This picture is from sometime back but that doesn’t negate the fact that it was indeed taken from my terrace and that a view such as this (whilst ignoring the towers) made me feel a very nice kinda happy satisfaction.

I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life so far where the need to have a terrace hasn’t featured. And the memories that follow along are aplenty. My first memories of a terrace were of the one our house was on back in the days. We had a house that was on a humongous terrace whose every corner was lined with plants because ma loves her plants. I remember dusky evening spent with the brother over toy cars rides, gardening, playing with our dog, games of snakes and ladders and ludo of course. Evenings quickly darkened into nights where the family would join us to play antakshari followed by story sessions till it was time for ma to get up and get dinner ready. I remember spending so many hours on the said terrace waiting for my cool aunt to pick us up after her work to take us out. Oh the joy of spotting her through those concrete rails. It was pretty hard to keep my frock from getting messed up whilst squealing with delight I don’t remember feeling in ages.

Terraces were meant for playing games of every kind. Clothes on the clothes line became the roofs of our makeshift houses while we played house-house or doctor-doctor or school-school. Fronds of coconut trees were even better as they not only sheltered us but gave us the chance to weave our roofs the way we pleased apart from giving us their baby coconuts to make part of our kitchen-kitchen games.

Back when we were in the north part of the country, our terraces meant everything. If you’re from the north or have seen movies pictured there, you’d know the significance they hold even today, irrespective of the size or view. You could use Vicky’s terrace from Vicky Donor as an example. Terraces in the summer meant we got to lay our charpais (charpoys/cots) out under the stars during those long hours of powercuts and drift into endless dreams, only to wake up in our grandparents’ beds the next morning. Summer nights involved stories from nani (my maternal grandmother), watching the stars, being fanned by my aunts with those small cane fans every household will still have and floating around in the fragrance of nani’s numerous rose plants. Terraces in a north-Indian summer also signified a large number of ceramic vats pickling mangoes, chillies, berries and a million other vegetables and fruits. Oh, and drying papads and chips too!

And when winter came, terraces were meant for all the kids to bathe under the warming frigid winter sun with steaming water after massages of mustard oil, besan and cream only to quickly huddle under towels and get clothed in layers and layers of woolens. Winter terrace sessions obviously happened during the day, from noon onward where everyone gathered around on chatais (cane mats) to gamble and play cards, antakshari and sing solos in turn while munching on woodapples and roasted peanuts with salt and chutneys. And beer of course. Yes, beer. Seasons don’t matter when it comes to beer and the family. That’s when we kids watched our folks play and picked our card games up from; even the sneaky cheating that happened quite so often and ended in bursts of laughter. But none of us know how to gamble, which is quite a shame and surprising all in one.

Memories of terraces slowly shifted paths from family gatherings to times spent with friends. My first most significant memory of spending an evening on the terrace was back in school. It involved snuggling in sleeping bags and falling asleep to a meteor shower; or to more magically put it, falling asleep watching shooting stars. It was and still is one of the most magical things I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing. Terraces became spots of deep conversations with friends; especially conversations you didn’t want being overheard by snooping siblings and adults who pretended they didn’t have flappy ears over their fast-growing kids. How cold and frigid it got never mattered because we were always so engrossed in catching up or even silence in itself.

Some of the best conversations I’ve had with friends and my siblings have been on the terrace. It’s only when dinner or, now, gnawing backaches beckon that we wrap up and head down. Terrace melees always feature a chatai, cups of tea, rums and cokes, something to munch on, socks, sweaters/shawls, Fuzzy (when she feels like it) and the need to unload oneself of at least a fraction of their million thoughts and feelings. I unfortunately do not have pictures of the times mentioned above to show you. I do have this though.

1015045500012505509122012340While the ones above aren’t as recent, the ones below are reminiscent of how my Friday night was spent.

IMG_1658 IMG_1661 IMG_1663 IMG_1666 IMG_1667 IMG_1668Apologies on the picture quality but there’s only so much one can do with their phone especially when they abhor using flash.

Terraces are just the best places to be with or without company. Except of course when it starts lightening and thundering. Terraces have just got to be one of my favourite places to ever be at.

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