I come from a family of packrats and magpies. Basically we are all bibliophiles. Dad had his P.G. Wodehouses, Nevil Shutes, Perry Masons, Alister Macleans, a vintage collection of Ananda vikatan and Readers Digest from around 1945 to name a few. Paternal grandfather had a collection of science, Medical books, books on religion, temples etc and of course pens. Mom collected recipes, books, old greeting cards… But I used to envy her collection of Dennis the Menace comic strips which she had painstakingly cut and collected from the Hindu and pasted in an old ledger. I can not recollect the number of blissful days I have spent going through them - may be thousands - and chuckling to myself. Wonder where it is now… Funny how she never collected saris or jewellery like ‘normal women’! I am so grateful to her for that. Of the five of us, my elder brothers are the philatelists and numismatists. They have very good collections of coins and stamps. In fact, my eldest brother has some very rare and precious Pre- independence Indian and valuable British stamps…which he guards with his life! When they were boys, my second brother used to collect match box covers…Oh my God! I used to spend agony filled days and nights coveting those. And my brother would spit fire if I so much as went near it. Now- a- days, he collects books, coins. Both his kids head the same way! When the eldest was in his teens, he had a collection of his favourite actor: Rajesh Khanna. Starting with picture postcards to pictures cut out of Star Dust and Film Fare…it was enough to set a teenager drooling. I remember taking it stealthily and flaunting the wedding pictures of Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia to my friends…and of facing his ire later. I can still recall the picture of Saira Banu in her famous Victoria No. 203 clad in two, precarious, itsy bitsy towels… My younger brother collects music…I mean cassettes, CDs and MP3 files…He’s heavily into Carnatic, Western and the vernacular. He’s teaching himself a la eklavya listening to the carnatic vocalists while he drives ( he drives a lot and <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 /><ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>Bangalore </ST1LACE></ST1:CITY>traffic ensures he spends a lot of time listening to music!). Rat, my sister collects books and music and would you believe it? Game CDs and DVDs of all kinds of movies…Though the latter is for her kids. Of course, her vintage collection is her friends. Me? I collect a lot of things! Books…all kinds. I have all Grishams, Archers, Michael Palmers, Harry Potters, Richard Gordons, Dan Browns, Mitch Alboms, Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Haileys, Erich Segals, the Katha series, Chicken Soups and gems like, Gone with the Wind, To Sir with Love, To Kill a Mockingbird, and many, many others that I have enjoyed reading and adding to my collection. My sis has a collection of Colin Forbes, Cooks, Sheldons and Ludlams so there’s always plenty to read. I have recently been given my mother’s vintage collection of Diwalimalars of Kalki and Vikatan, the First editions of Jane Austens and Aithihyamala and Induchoodan’s book on Indian birds. I have recipe books… all vegetarian stuff. My books are more precious to me than anything else…I mean after my husband and the twins of course ( yeah…honestly...!) My husband, God bless him, collects all the bills and receipts I hand over to him. He is a silent collector of those…Sometimes his silence is a trifle terrifying…but I try to support his hobby as his better half, eh? ( heh…heh…!) Once I collected toy dogs. I have all kinds: stuffed, beanies, wooden, clay, happy, sad, ugly, tiny…In fact I have one with such a woeful look on its face, it is my favourite…(RP says, it has the expression that was on his face when I paid Dhs.28 for it!) Then one day, I just got cured of that Freudian fixation for my secret aversion to pets… and packed them all away, and started collecting small and rare artifacts, specially picked up from Global Village and wherever I go. I have a miniature violin from <ST1:COUNTRY-REGION><ST1LACE>Austria </ST1LACE></ST1:COUNTRY-REGION>, a slab of marble inlaid with lapis lazuli, carnelian, mother of pearl and malachite… similar to the Taj Mahal. Since my living room is big I have space to scatter my bric a brac here and there. Then I chanced upon a fridge magnet that said “ My husband told me to choose between him and shopping… Boy! Will I miss that man!” That tickled my sense of Ha –Ha so much that I started collecting magnets. Well, that one has mysteriously disappeared and I think I know the culprit! These days, my favourite one has the picture of a polar bear fallen flat on ice with the words, “If God wanted me to touch my toes, He’d have placed them on my knees.” I read it religiously before and after I open the fridge. ( No, Freud…Down Boy! …Freud, don’t give me that look!... Freud is my imaginary Conscience) I collected a lot of bright, polycot sarees for my school use…jet blacks, emerald greens, mustards and maroons… Every grammar class I’d end up wearing them and be covered with chalk dust! Anyway, these post- teaching days, they are collecting dust inside the wardrobe! Talking of collecting dust…I never collected Good House Keeping…ever! So my house does collect a lot of dust…which I try to ignore whenever I have busy schedules…like when I was working…and when I am blogging…or reading…You get the picture…right? I have, over a long period, also collected a lot of adipose tissue, cellulite, blubber, lard…oh whatever! They seem to be rather attached to me…reluctant to leave me. Have collected a lot of habits that seem to die hard…a lot of memories for the treasure chest of my mind, … grey hair and wrinkles…against my wishes… At the moment I am collecting a lot of confidence in my ability to write… to express my random thoughts! But my greatest collection in the last 24 years has been the love and affection from quite a lot of people…family, far relatives on my husband’s side and mine, neighbours, friends, colleagues and of course, my students.