Walk, Walking, Talking, Home

Authored by: Devika Chawla

Handbook of Autoethnography

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781598746006
eBook ISBN: 9781315427812
Adobe ISBN: 9781315427805


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I have a walking history, if there can be such a thing. It begins when I was seven years old. We lived in a small north Indian town called Moga close to the Pakistan border. My grandfather had recently died, and Biji, my grandma, had come to live with us. She and I shared a room and developed the love-hate relationship that inevitably ensues when a child finds herself rooming with a 75-year-old grandparent. Biji had many rituals—waking up at 4 a.m. to recite portions of the Gita and the Gayatri Mantra; cleaning her dentures as she whispered "hai ram" for the next hour; oiling her hair with coconut oil; eating her isabgol — an ayurvedic stomach cleanser which everyone in generations previous to mine swears upon—with warm water. On weekdays, we held a reluctant peace since I needed to wake up for school at 6 a.m., and with Biji around I was never going to be late. But on weekends, the room became a battle zone as I resisted getting out of bed until 8 a.m.—a considerably late wake-up time in Biji's world. For Biji, every day was everyday, and she lovingly nourished her routines.

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