Tag: change

Meri wali Diwali

Meri wali Diwali

Diwali to me has always meant being home. No matter where I worked, no matter how much the work pressure, Diwali would see me braving crowded trains, sometimes sitting through the entire 26 hour journey, to my parents.
Home, now is with the Husband and kids. The celebrations aren’t the same too. Just as much fun, but in a different way.
I clean (yeah I do that sometimes) and so do the kids. We buy pretty knick-knacks. N begins to think up rangoli designs way in advance and H always makes a late entry and wants to make one too. The diyas are bought, washed, dried and painted. The large ceremonial pot is cleaned and filled with water ready for flowers and floating candles. Gifts for dear friends are picked with care and are kept wrapped and ready. I go hunting for Ganesh-Lakshmi idols. In this part of the country solo Lakshmi idols seem to be the norm but back home the two gods were inseparable. For years I thought Ganesh and Lakshmi were a couple, wondering where Vishnu ji fitted in the whole picture!
Lunch that day is frill-free because cooking is not my forte. I try to stick to what I can handle – large chunks of paneer in tomato gravy, potatoes fried a golden brown, hot puffed puris and soft dahi wadas with tamarind-jaggery chutney. Basic stuff but it works for us. I make up by laying out the table as prettily as I can with my best china. Oh I also have the mandatory jimikand that makes your tongue tingle crazily but is must-have on Diwali lest you be reborn as a chhuchhundar
The husband fusses round putting up the lights and then goes mithai shopping with the kids. He completely forgets that he’s a diabetic and buys much more than we can consume. I pretend to be angry but I don’t really mind because I know we’ll be sick of them before the week is through.
In the evening we set out the idols and the silver coins, the flowers and the diyas. After we light the diyas we have a small puja ending with an aarti. I gave up most of the other rituals because I don’t have a knack for them. I simply cannot remember them all and I got tired of calling up my mom every year. I do try though, because it would be a pity if H and N lost touch with all that’s traditional.
After the puja we carry the diyas and place one in each of the rooms, with the hope that our home and our lives are forever lit up with their radiance. Then we’re off to visit friends, exchange mithais and gifts and watch the fireworks.
Later at night, we switch off all the lights and sit amidst the flickering  diyas and twinkling lanterns. We watch as the skies light up periodically in a shower of fireworks with H and N flitting from window to window calling out to come ‘see this one’. 
It is truly beautiful.
That is what I am grateful this festive season – that I can celebrate Diwali exactly the way I want. I love that I have complete liberty to weed out all I don’t like – the must-be-done-cooking, the craziness of spring cleaning, the long drawn out puja, the mandatory gifting – all of those things that stress me out and make me not want to celebrate at all.
That leaves me with only the good parts, surrounded by the warmth of family and friends, and makes me welcome Diwali with all my heart, just how it should be.

What’s your Diwali like? What are are the things you’ve done away with or added on?
Why Whisper?

Why Whisper?

This is definitely not a comfortable post to write. But some things are worth stepping out of my comfort zone for. So here I am.
While I was growing up ‘periods’ were just a pain. My mum had told me about them, however when they did come, they took me by surprise, not a nice surprise at all. I found it difficult to reconcile myself to the idea of those troublesome days every month – month after month – for ever – or so it seemed to the 13 year old me.
I was in an all girls’ school, yet when one of the girls ended up with a stained skirt it was a huge ‘haw’ moment. She would disappear to the washroom and spend the rest of the day fidgeting in her chair, cardigan tied at her waist. Strangely, and rather unfairly, the other girls, though not unkind, weren’t really supportive.
I never stopped resenting my monthly trial – the idea of no jeans, no whites, no pastels was annoying. And then there were the cramps and rashes to contend with! Ugh!
The discomfort was bad enough, what was worse was the whole idea of keeping it a secret, like it was something I was guilty of. I hated the little white lies I had to think up each time my stomach hurt and I needed to excuse myself from PT class, or when the family was going to the temple and I had to opt out (that’s something I have since done away with) – it was truly painful. But that was how it was and, sadly enough, I accepted it.
Years later, after an exceptionally busy day at work, one of my young colleagues sat down with huge sigh and said, ‘Lord, my feet are killing me. Day one of chums is such a bummer.’  I still remember the appalled faces of everyone around – girls and men alike. Talking about periods openly wasn’t the done thing, still isn’t, perhaps.
Why the big secret?
That incident stuck with me. Why should the whole issue of periods be such secret? Why  should sanitary napkins be sold in those black opaque plastic bags at medical stores? Why should it be referred to as a ‘woman’s problem’? This, when every girl/woman goes through it every single month.
And I thought…
How wonderful would it be if one could talk about it openly. If one could simply say, ‘My stomach hurts because I have my periods’ or ‘I have a migraine because of my periods’. And staining a skirt would just be an unfortunate accident like staining it when you slipped under the jamun tree… how liberating that would be. 

And how wonderful it would be to be shown just that little bit of extra concern during those days when you are not at your physical best!

I have to admit talking about menstruation publicly doesn’t come naturally to me. Put it down to years of conditioning and my natural conservativeness.

However, I have been talking to the children about it. As they stand at the brink of puberty, I hope neither of them feel a sense of discomfort if the topic is brought up. My daughter should never feel the anxiety that I did. She should never need to lie or hide away. As for my son, I hope I can instill in him an awareness about menstruation. I hope I can engender in him a sense of empathy and sensitivity towards his sister and then, by extension, towards all women.

Most of all, I hope no woman ever needs to be ashamed of it for it is as much a part of her being a woman as anything else.

Linking up with  Write Tribe and #Period Pride.

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Dopehri #BookReview

Dopehri #BookReview

Book: दोपहरीAuthor: Pankaj Kapoor I don’t know why I took so long to pick up this book. It is written by an actor I love; an erudite, eloquent, thinking actor. It’s set in my hometown. It has a promising title and gorgeous cover page. I really can’t imagine why I didn’t pick it up earlier. […]