When my aunt saw this, she rewarded her with a whack on the head and took her straight to the tap in the garden!
Due to her soggy mood that continued in the later parts of the day, I had to get back to Arabian Nights.
All my memories are associated with the stories that were read to me or the books that I read during those times of my life. Even the apparently idle and boring phases of my life have their share of books. :)
I started off with Arabian Nights and Aesop's Fables, which my grandmother used to read out to me at various times in a day. I thank her for her patience and willingness to open up my imagination and I thank the God of Technology who was dormant in the 80s. This stopped the invasion of television in my life when it was least desired. I started reading pretty soon and graduated on to the usual fairy tales that all girls read.
The later parts of my childhood are associated with the Adventures of Dennis, which has been one of my most favorite books. The copy that I had was a translation from Russian into Marathi and I think it was funnier than the English version.
During this time ajji (my grandmom) continued her impalpable reading and introduced me to some of the finest work in Marathi literature.
On hot summer evenings, we used to sit on the balcony of the pretty house in Kolhapur and read plays. Sometimes ajji used to pick a character and my cousin and I used to pick our own. We would pass the book around and try and enact the play as if it were real! I read Sharda (G.B.Deval) and Ekach Pyala (R.G.Gadkari) during the summer holidays when I was around ten. With every summer break that came after that my taste in literature got one step further. Ajji slowly introduced me to Marathi poetry, which inspired me to write some of my own. She is a big fan of Bha.Ra.Tambe and Suresh Bhat.
During my early teenage years, our evening balcony sessions were full of poetry. One for each occasion! Needless to say that Marathi poetry and Marathi Natyasangeet go hand in hand. You have to learn to appreciate both in order to be a theatre-going-snob in Pune. My ajji is very creative and in order to make it all interesting for me she also included Acharya Atre's Zenduchi Phule in the poetry section. So every time she read out a sad and serious poem, she used to top it with the parody version that Acharya Atre came up with! That phase was indeed a lot of fun.
My ajji was however "not-so-impressed" with Pu.La Deshpande. So my admiration for him grew only during the school sessions when I was in Pune with my other bibliophilic friends. I ventured into reading English literature only when I was about thirteen years old. Those were the "rebel" days of my life when I refused to go to Kolhapur and preferred to stay in Pune during my summer holidays to be with my friends. I guess that is just as much rebellion a middle-class Maharashtrian can get away with anyway!
Although like all average school girls, I had my share of Nancy Drew from the school-library, I started reading seriously only when I turned into a teenager. Suddenly my life was filled with W.Somerset Maughm, Agatha Cristie, P.G.Wodehouse and a little bit of Wordsworth. However, I never really gave up on my pursuit of Marathi literature. As I found myself turning into a young woman, I was exceedingly fascinated by Marathi poets. Na.Dho.Mahanor and Kavi Grace were amongst them. My parents realized my inclination towards poetry and gave me an open road to chase whatever I wanted to. The fact that I was fascinated by abstract Grace or rustic love-poems by Mahanor when I was just fifteen never bothered my parents. I did feel a bit out of place because of my tastes in entertainment and I am pretty sure some of my school-friends thought I was a bit weird during those days. I turned into a loner for a while and this is when I read and loved all the poetry that I have ever read. Poetry has always connected me to people and I tend to get fascinated by people with a way with poetry. It doesn't matter if they make it or just say it!
During my days as a student of Chemical Engineering, my reading took a back-seat and it was seasoned only with the Harry Potter series (I have read and followed all the books and I avoid watching the movies because I have my own versions of Harry,Ron and Hermione in my head).As I eased into engineering however I began reading again and that phase was marked with a lot of Alpha to Omega series by Osho. This was something I picked up from my grandfather who did not play a major role in my childhood reading. He is a follower of philosophical writing and has read various versions of the ancient Indian scriptures, especially the upanishads. I also discovered Richard Bach during these years and read a couple of books by him which have made me think differently. Most of the Bhagwad Geeta I know is through the long (digressing) discourses from my grandfather in the wee hours of the morning. He loves getting up at 4 AM and if you wake up around that time he makes sure that you are turned into a disciple. Although I dozed off in between his metaphors (and ajji's heart filled with pity) I am really glad I was introduced to it by someone like him.
These days reading is not as regular as it used to be because of long patches of research reading. However these days I am reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which is an analysis of human thinking!
I think that you are what you are because of the people you grow up around. I was fortunate enough to have enough romanticism, philosophy and science around me. It has helped me see everything there is and also choose what I like. My reading buddies (ajji,aai,baba,Neha and Ameya) have helped me develop my own personal culture. When you are away from home, your personal culture is one of the most important means of survival and progress!
I am grateful for this journey!