Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Flashbacks to June 1986

I am no psychiatrist but this much I know from my own experiences - Sometimes it takes new but just the same event of the past to trigger an old memory. 

I have always been sensitive to sudden loud noises. I also believe it has amplified as the years have gone by. There has to be a reason that makes me startle. I am sure it must be a normal reaction across the board. Sudden noises aren't fun.

But this morning what happened took me back to 1986. Yes, I know, we are talking about ancient times.

My husband and I had just moved into our new apartment in Ithaca, NY. I had joined him after one year of our marriage. I could have come with him soon after the wedding (visa situation was quite different then) but I had to finish my last year of Applied Arts back home.

The apartment we lived in was backed up to lush green hillside and a beautiful Ithaca falls was just a walking distance away. My friend Laurie Buck knows how much I still love that place.

One fine afternoon, I was making an Indian meal because that was the only thing I knew how to cook. The kitchen was furnished with electric stove which was new to me. I had never worked in a kitchen without a window, or on an electric stove. 

It was 32 years ago! All I remember, I wanted to make Chapatti - Indian flat bread.  Back home I used a gas stove and used to roast freshly rolled chapatti straight on the flame. Rolled chapatti rises like a ball, the house smells so good, it makes me hungry just thinking about it right now. If you have ever tried it, you know what I am talking about.

Here is the link to my IG post about it. You will be amused, I promise!

Well, back in 1986 in Ithaca, I did not have that little cake cooling rack you see there. I thought (or didn't think at all) it would be okay to roast it straight on the coil.

You have to imagine what happened next. My perfectly rolled chapatti burnt into nothing and the smoke alarm went off. This is the first time ever in my life I heard that loud screeching noise of an alarm. I didn't know what it was and where it was coming from. Honestly, I didn't care, all I knew, I wanted to be as far as possible from it. I turned off the stove and ran outside as fast as possible. 

Everything else about that day has faded away. I do not remember how long I stayed outside. There  were no phone calls to be made. I wasn't going to run back in the apartment to call my husband. No cell pones. Hard to imagine that today. 

32 years have gone by since then. I am a pro now! I have managed to trigger the alarm a few times.  I still panic when I am in a windowless kitchen. Back home, kitchens always have a window, and it is always open.

When we moved to San Francisco in 2015, initially we stayed in a beautiful but small apartment. I did not want to cook there at all for the same reason, fear of alarms. It took me a while before I got comfortable to cook there.  One day when I wasn't cooking the smoke alarm went off. Aaaarg! Here we go again, I thought. I ran outside the apartment as I was supposed to. Came back once it was cleared.. And then it went on and on again for next few times. I was told I could stay in the apartment because it was the maintenance day for the smoke alarms for the complex and it will go on for most of the day. Can you imagine that?

So let's fast forward to this morning!

I am in our apartment in San Diego for couple of weeks. The light is beautiful here and I don't have so much of white, blank space in my house in the bay area. So I decided to take advantage of it all and take pictures of few quilts cascading from the door.

As soon as I took one picture, the alarm went off. Ha Ha!

My quilts are too hot for this place!

Quilts too hot that turned on the smoke alarm 2018

I was still in my pajamas but decent enough to not worry about it all, I grabbed my phone, keys and wallet.. You never know how long it would take for everything to be normal. As I was walking down, I realized, this is it! This is why I get startled with loud sudden noises.

After all I am a girl from India, where noises are common. Those of you who have been there, you know this. I am quite used to daily sounds - The honking of automobiles, people talking loud, all kinds of processions on the streets, wedding and religious, even marches and protests of all kinds. Nothing new there. If fact, when I came back after every visit, the quiet here was unbearable. But the smoke alarm is a different kind of beast. I have never gotten used to it.

But I understand, I have changed. It has been 32 years. It would be strange if I hadn't.

Got to love the apartment life!


  1. Oh my dear - I don't like smoke alarms either! But what a marvelous photo you captured before you had to run outside this morning.

  2. I do, indeed, know how much you still love Ithaca! and, Ithaca Falls. and, all waterfalls! I, too, am startled by the smoke alarm suddenly going off. there's no getting used to it! but, at least your hot quilts set it off this time!!! :-)

  3. You sure know how to turn up the temperatures!!! Wishing you lots of joy and creativity in your new place. Stay cool :-)

  4. Great story! Thanks for sharing!

  5. The smoke alarm is so shrill....I am sorry that your beautiful bright hot quilts set it off this time...:) I used to be so used to noise living in NYC, that when I moved to Miami, the birds woke me up. I used to fly in and out of Delhi..not just the sounds, but the colors and smells...I still remember, the rush as the airplane landed and my eagerness to rush out to the market for fabric bargaining..xo

  6. What a fun post. I can hear your voice, your inflection, your ‘accent’ as I read this. What a sweet recollection about a simple but memorable event(s) in. Your life.

  7. I love the way your qu8lts flow from one to the next. Beautiful.
    Good story about smoke alarms. So glad you still have quiet days with your husband.

  8. I know what you mean. For me it's crowds. I was caught in a football crowd in London 35 years ago when a few hooligans went mental on a train platform. not escape. Nowhere to hide. when I eventually got to my destination I collapsed.
    All was well in the long run but whenever I get caught in an unexpectedly large crowd I feel the panic setting in.

    LOVE the too hot quilts!

  9. Funny story! And, your quilts may be too hot for your new place, but they surely look beautiful there! Wink!

  10. So reallly nice to see your crazy quilt. love your story. my hubby and I were married in 1984. good times sooo many technology growth since then hey?


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