I bet each one of you has an umbrella story (or several) to tell.
My first memory of an umbrella is probably from the time I was five–or younger–huddling under a huge black umbrella with a wooden handle; at least it seemed huge at the time to my 2.2 feet self. Summer days in the balcony under the fabric, pretending to be in a tent. Kudos to my mom for some quick thinking, eh, in creating the setting for my make-believe world. Also, it was easy to maneuver. And twirl, this way and that.
Even then, I yearned for a beach umbrella, of the sort I saw in my books. Huge colorful striped stretches that seemed to house entire families under it, around a picnic table laden with all kinds of goodies. Shelter from the sun. Beach in the distance, waves lapping at the shore. I think that’s one of my “happy” memories. I mean, I have this bunch of “happy” scenes in my head that I draw on when I feel a little low.
Later I got my very own mini-umbrella, striped and colorful. Don’t be shocked–I still have it. Decades later, I used it to build the rustic umbrella that went with the Vamana avatar for my son when he was 8 and played the role in an Onam drama.
I may or may not have pretended to be Eliza Doolittle with the old black umbrella, doing a jig or two on the staircase, holding the curved wooden handle.
During one of our visits to a furniture exhibition, while shopping for a bed, we came across this stall where they were promoting a folding picnic table with chairs. I mean, the whole thing fits into a flat box to be stored away. Then, all one has to do is open it up, and voila! There’s this table with four seats around it. Adults fit in the seats. We were enamored with it and spent money we couldn’t really afford at the time to acquire it. It came with a massive beach umbrella. Talk about buying a coat because we had a button! But seriously, the hours of pleasure that followed enjoying jigsaw puzzles, tea-parties-both make-believe and real, and the laughter, were all priceless and well worth the investment. Yep, still have the table packed up, safe on top of one of our cupboards.
We used the beach umbrella that came with it far more than the table–setting it up in the balcony where we spent a lot of time.
Haven’t opened it for years now, and as I write this, I am tempted to bring it down and set it up.
I remember how, when Vidur was around a year and a half old, we’d take him for walks around the area. The kid hardly sat in his pram, preferring to push it around and keep on laughing. There used to be a tiny temple near our place. He had this habit of placing the umbrella near one of the railings in the fence, running around the temple and then grabbing it back. One day, he forgot. And realized it after returning home. And became super-upset. And….believed it would be waiting for him when he went back the next evening. And it was. Still have it!
And oh, he loved to sit under the shower holding an umbrella–pretending it was raining!
When he was three, he gifted me a purple tri fold umbrella that fit neatly into my handbag–I treasure it and still use it even if the fabric tends to face the other side when there’s a breeze! Ah, sentiment! Like the little lunch box with cutouts of all my favorite foods that I hold, transported back to the day when my son, then seven-year-old, gifted it to me. . .
Oh, Sury has his own favorite umbrellas. A couple of memorable mementos from International Math Olympiads that he treasures–even if they are no longer usable.
We may have come a long way from those rigid black umbrellas with the wooden handles…but the umbrellas I love most? The not-big-enough ones, huddling with friends in the rain, getting drenched and not bothered about it.
I remember coveting one lovely transparent-see-through umbrella. Saw it in a movie. Now these are available everywhere. And funnily enough, I haven’t bought one of those. Some things are nicest when you covet them but don’t acquire them, right? Rather like the anticipation and excitement that goes into looking forward to something–than its actual occurrence!
Hmmm. So all this just because I have to go shop for umbrellas–obviously nostalgia won’t keep me from getting drenched in the rain!
Do you have a favorite umbrella memory?