Introducing Maria

When I was five or six back in Calcutta, I went to see ‘The Sound of Music’ with my extended family. I think it was the first movie I saw and I remember being dressed in my best, the line to get it, ushers showing us our seats, huge auditorium, the fold down seats, the lights that dimmed magically and slowly turning people around me into shadows, the screen lighting up and Julie Andrews bursting onto the screen with her sweet, melllifluous voice and a freshness that mirrored the hills around her. I dont know how much I understood the words, but I understood the music, and followed the movie. For years, it was my favorite movie, I rewinded and played songs ad nauseum in my cassette player, learnt all the words ( or word approximations, as my English wasnt so good) and loved singing the songs.

And let me ask you this, once you have seen Maria, does your impression of your nanny/teacher/mom ever remain the same? I loved the concept of a ‘governess’ who would take me on boat trips where I could fall and get wet, throw me plums in a town square, take me for buggy rides, make me dresses from curtains, and teach me how to do puppet shows. And most of all who could improvise songs at the drop of a hat.

I have been playing the sound of music songs in my car for the babe for a long time and I had shown him the puppet show of ‘The lonely goatherd’ but recently I thought it might be time to show him more of the movie. He has never seen a movie before, so I thought just the songs and the accompanying videos would be a good start.

We started with ‘The lonely goatherd’ of course, which he loves. The babe is very particular about what he will watch, so I had to use some gentle persuasion (Do you want to see a picnic on TV etc) to move him to Do re mi. He was non commital when we started, but as the kids started jumping and running after Maria he loved it. We moved on to ‘So long farewell’ and then ‘Favorite things’. Of course, since I was picking it from the DVD, each song included a few lines of dialogue before.

By then, he said very little, but I could just feel his little mind at work. When the husband came back he said ‘Mommy showed me a song where the girl comes in to the house from the window and not the door! She comes into the mommy’s room on the second floor, climbing the wall all by herself’. I had never thought he would pick that up.

And the next day, our games were all about picnics, where he was the mommy and he would hand me food and sing to me. And our next TV day we watched the videos again.

You know, most days I want to be Maria. I want to be carefree and run around and sing songs (even songs not written by me will do!). Most days I am not. And the last few months of tiring third trimester and now with the newborn – definitely not.

But I hope with this one and the next, some days I can be. For the appeal of the ‘firm but kind’, singing governess is universal and still as fresh today as so many years ago back in the dark movie hall in Calcutta.

Last 5 posts by Khushi


  1. Indrani

    Hi Khushi.
    Much of my childhood memories revolve around Sound of Music too. so much so I had once asked my father if we could have a governess like Maria as well.
    Shaamak loves the songs of Sound of Music. Do Re Me is the mantra to get him into the car seat. But off late he prefers the ‘Cuckoo song’ as he has named it for the “So long Farewell’. He loves to say Cuckoo along with the children in the song.

  2. Khushi

    Indrani, I can identify.We call ‘so long’ farewell the ‘night night’ song. Very nice hearing from you.

  3. Yasmin

    Isnt it amazing how our identity is shaped by the stories, games, movies etc we are passed down and what we are told about ourselves and our family. There is so much involved in creating and molding another human being. We are setting the foundation of who/what our children will become.
    I will always cherish the moments our family spent time together watching old b/w (Raj Kapoor,Dev Anand)movies. And actually, it didnt matter what movies we saw, it was ‘doing it together’ that made it ‘Happy and Memorable’!

  4. Khushi

    You are right. Doing it together makes a big difference. And I think so often in life about the movie or book characters – how they would have reacted. They become such a part of our life.

  5. Tana

    Lovely post. I can tell you that till date The Sound of Music is one of my most favorite movies, even though in general I won’t watch musicals. To me it not only memorialized the happy, care-free governess, but also a love-story, a battle with religious duty, and of course the escape from Nazi Germany. All the while giving us the most memorable songs of all time. What a feat!

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