A Foot here and a foot there!

Snowshoeing at McDonald pass – near Helena
Glass house -Lalbagh in Bangalore

The other day, I was dropping my son off to school. Here, I was waiting for the car ahead of me to move, and that car in turn was waiting for me to leave. This was in complete contrast to Bangalore, India – where I had just returned from, a few days ago. In Bangalore, honking rules, traffic chaos are the order of the day, and going the wrong way on a one-way is the norm. You deserve to be trampled by almost any vehicle, if you dare cross a road on foot. No wonder! my mother felt people in Helena were very nice, because they waited in their cars patiently with a smile, as she slowly crossed the road! She wouldn’t even dream of crossing a road in Bangalore!

To think of it, there was a time when Bangalore was mellow with lesser traffic and more trees and happy people. In the mid 70s, our family comprising my parents, brother and me, had just moved to Bangalore from another state called Bihar in India and it had felt like we had moved to another country altogether. My father could speak four languages Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu and English and yet, my earliest memory is of him using his fingers to buy bananas, and bargain with a good measure of hand signals and head nodding. How different are the languages from state to state? Well very different, the script is different, the grammar is different, the words are different, the pronunciation is different and off course the food, the culture and religions could be different too!

Punjabi has been spoken in both my parents’ homes for five generations or more, so like other indians, my parents have continued the lingual and cultural tradition of a Sikh-Punjabi at home. Actually, all of our immediate neighbors were from different states in India, so as a five year old, who enjoyed spending time in their houses, I learned to speak a few phrases in their languages, while enjoying their food. Thanks to my daily conversations with our maid, I could speak Kannada too! My favorite line was “Lets beat your yejmanroo ( husband) with a kuchi ( stick). As her yejamanroo was the reason she sobbed almost everyday.

My parents couldn’t speak Kannada, the primary language of Bangalore, so as a six year old, I became the Kannada – spokesperson of our house. I accompanied my mother to the vegetable market, usually bargained back and forth between my mother and the grocer, but never to my mother’s satisfaction. If I refused to talk to the big burly tomato seller, she reprimanded me “for being meek and cowardly”. She preferred a hindi-speaking grocers, so she could bargain herself, but then they didn’t always have what she wanted.

If the maid did not show up for work it was my job to interrogate her when she returned! My mom would want to know why she had skipped work. “Jwara” (fever) the maid would sigh! “She is lying, must have gone to watch the latest movie! Anyway if she had come, I would have taken her to the doctor”, my mother would retort angrily. Being the only one, who actually understood the exchange, I embellished, so as to soften my mother’s harshness, towards Parvati – our maid, it made me feel good!

The Guhas, our new neighbours from the state of Bengal, came over to our house for a visit. “Bangalore kaisa lag raha?” (How does Bangalore feel), my father asked in Hindi. “ Bahut Accha!” (Very good), replied Mr Guha, nodding his head. Mrs Guha was happy that she could talk to the milkman in English, as he politely greeted her with a Hello and a How do you do? When in fact , that poor guy was only saying “Halloo”, which means “Milk” and “Howdo” which means “Yes” in Kannada! Often times, a random person on the street would ask “oota aayitha!” “Had your meal?” a common way of greeting people in Bangalore.

Would I still want to live there, after having lived and raised my boys in the United States for almost 20 years? Yes!! It is a city, where multitude languages are spoken, where different accents are a way of life, where your name being mispronounced is common place, where everyday is a festival for some family belonging to some region of India. While, there is a sense of comfort & joy in connecting with people who speak the same language as you, there is also a sense of unity in diversity as people converse across languages, by using common keywords, replete with hand movements and head shaking. Our family (me, my husband and the boys) has visited India almost every summer, this year I have already been to Bangalore thrice!!!

Yet when I return to Helena, our home for the past eight years, that feeling of warmth embraces me, as I see familiar faces and smiles everywhere. When I hike on the trails here, with the cool, crisp breeze touching my face, and the beautiful mountains in the background, it feels like heaven!!! As a family, we enjoy hiking together, then maybe walk to the downtown area to watch a movie or a concert, followed by a walk back home in the dark. Did I not dream of living in a place like this all my life? I have spent a lot of time comparing the two cities in the two different continents, But, if I allow both the places and the people to surround me in their beauty, caring and sharing. The boundary between the continents and countries feels like a blur, that doesn’t need to exist.

Finally I am at peace with a foot here in Helena and another foot there in Bangalore!


Published by Ish

I love to cook and write. Growing up in India, I learned how to make rotis and blend spices for different dishes. Now my cooking, here in the Montana is more focused on local, seasonal produce, cooked and flavored in many more ways....I enjoy cooking for my family, friends, gatherings at home and for fundraisers.

One thought on “A Foot here and a foot there!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Land of Images

Just another WordPress.com site

My Ordinary Moments

The idiosyncracies, the obsessions, the emotions, nostalgia and all things...human


Just another WordPress.com weblog

Chronic Town

“Mommy, are you going to the doctor again?”


WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.


Original & Adapted Dinner Entrees in the Mediterranean Tradition

homemade naturally


Crafty Coin

Tips for how to budget and live frugally

Cooking with Ish

Monthly Indian Dinners at the Creperie, Cooking classes, & Recipes from all over

Sweet aroma

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God...2 Corinthians 2:15

K E Garland

Inspirational kwotes, stories and images

Scribbles to Compositions

Encompassing the spectrum of writing

Lovely Reflections

Sharing ideas from four generations of Southern women

I Don't Have The Map

Notes on Getting Lost and Getting Found


Tidgy bits along the path

All That Chatter

I was just thinking...


Random Ravings from an Old Bloke Down Under


Inspiring mental health through creative arts and friendly interactions. (Award free blog)

Word Shamble

Exploring fictional worlds in a flash

Quantum Hermit

A Life Unfolding

Seamless Writing

Exploring my writing potential

Cook Up a Story

Inspiration and Recipes for Growing Families

Rantings of an Amateur Chef

Food...cooking...eating....tools - What works, and what doesn't!

More Than A Dash Of Salt

Not your normal food blog

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.


The idiosyncracies, the obsessions, the emotions, nostalgia and all things...human


Food with mood. Homemade. Delicious and easy to cook.

Cooking Without Limits

Food Photography & Recipes

food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

Tasty Eats

Tasty recipes from chef Ronit Penso's kitchen

Aromas and Flavors from my Kitchen

"Home is where the Hearth is"

%d bloggers like this: