Same yet different

I have been thinking that this year the monsoons have lost their magic.  Since the first rains touched us, nothing was exciting enough. The clouds, the heavy downpour, the freshness of the newly washed leaves, the glass of the new high rises getting foggy and the lights twinkling inside beautiful homes, all have left me unmoved. What has changed in the last one year? The only season which I have been gung ho about all my life, has left me feeling limp. All is going reasonably well in all areas of my life. By the grace of God, I cant even say there is a problem and so I am feeling bad or sad. I do want to put a reason to my listlessness. I am happy when I can justify my moods and feelings. It kind of makes my rudeness, bad behaviour or irritation as a fair response to the things around me. This rainy season, try as I might, I am drawing a blank.

Blank should be a good place to be but not for me. I like to be solving the problems of the world in my head, all the time. In Mumbai, the buzz in the air starts from Ashadhi Ekadashi. There is a shift in the mood with this festival. I am on my cleaning spree for Ganpati. Finding it difficult to remove old, unwanted or unused stuff. Have an acumen of collecting laundry bags. I just don’t like giving them away. I am embarrassed to tell anyone why I have so many at home. I mean who needs 20 laundry bags? I keep thinking I will make the inner covers of my pillows with it or use them for dusting. I dont land up doing it. People store make up, shoes, combs, bags etc and I have always smirked at it.  Do give a thought to what you store in your house. What I like is so different from what I have in my house. I mean all the stuff I have at home is nice, good quality, long lasting and user friendly. It does not necessarily appeal to me in the aesthetic sense. Most of the household stuff is chosen by someone else or gifted. I see things I like and I always wonder where will I keep them in my house. I cant find a place and the beautiful thing doesn’t find a place in my home. I can confidently say I have no artist’s eye. I like the choice of a couple of my friends in household matters of the stuff to buy and use. I keep doubting my abilities as a housewife. Why can’t I be perfect? The more I strive for perfection, the messier I feel my home is. Not a great feeling when you are constantly judging yourself by the way your house is. I do believe that our external space is a reflection of the internal one. When will I feel satisfied?

The monsoon is all around me and I have chosen, albeit unconsciously, not to be happy about it. Every New Year is where the past year’s failure stares at my face and does not enable me to make new resolutions. This year the birthday is not bringing any joy. I am excited on First January that my birthday is eight months away. Now less than eight days away and I am still wondering what to do. Do I really need to celebrate? Do I need a reason to celebrate whether it is the monsoons or my birthday? I am taken aback when people say we shall go with the flow. I cannot comprehend that. I like to plan and then execute my plan and see it in reality. Go with the flow for me means just follow others and do not chart your own course. Can I go with the flow where I do not take decisions ? Where choices are made for me and I go by them and enjoy them? Where I trust that the choices made for me by others will be good for me? Can I surrender to that degree? Does surrender have degrees? For that matter do our emotions have degrees and who qualifies them? Do I love people by degrees? A few degrees more like the temperature in my town or yours? Degrees is all about comparison and comparisons never make me happy. I am comparing this monsoon to make me feel like last year’s monsoon. I am not the same, the rains are not the same, the city is not the same, the friends are not the same. This feeling of ‘it is the same and yet not so’…..

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Haldi Kumkum, Ambedkar Jayanti …a slice of Amchi Mumbai

Looking for inspiration every morning to get out of bed? Do you wake up early morning saying “let me go for a run”? I do not do any of these things knowing I should. I know that I have so much to be grateful for and we all do. But I am never content. Always looking at what I don’t have and how I can acquire. It could be a skill, a habit, a trait, an art, a thing or more. If nothing , then I am looking at which new holiday destination I can go to. Don’t know if this makes me restless or gives me a purpose in life. When one thing is accomplished, I seem to move on without even acknowledging myself for a job well done. What I have realised is all this is okay for myself but my fear is that I am expecting this from others too, in an unconscious manner. I don’t want to have too many expectations from people but even there I am upping it. Am I getting more disappointed? Not at all. Though I am a little concerned if people are feeling the pressure with me. Gosh, I am sounding so lofty even while writing this. It is like I am perfect and are the people matching up ongoingly?

Mumbai is really bright and beautiful at this time. It has fresh light green new leaves on all the trees. There are yellow flowers blooming. The chirping of the birds is heard more. Gudi Padwa has unleashed a series a festivities in the neighbourhood. Our entire lane is lit up with fairy lights from a fortnight and they are on the full night. The loud speakers start at ten pm and definitely no BMC guidelines are followed. For Ambedkar jayanti, There was a procession of the people in the Chawl.  The men and women wear white new clothes. Ambedkar party flags are in everyone’s hands. The ladies and young girls wear Navari sarees or the 9 yard sarees with a Peta, Pagdi or turban.  The were doing synchronised lezim dance. It was so graceful with Dhol. We had seen them practice for three hours every night before the event in the playground, after finishing all their chores. The week long celebrations included games competition, singing, group dance competitions. Three chawls right next to each other vie for the first prize/ the winners trophy. This year the MC ( Master of ceremonies) made the wrong announcement. He declared a winner, realised his mistake and then declared the actual winner. All hell broke loose. He was accused of cheating. The faux winners whose name was declared first started abusing and fighting with the actual winners. Women and men got into the fight. Police was called at 4 am to settle the matter. All  this happening right across us, as we blissfully slept in our air-conditioned comforts. The judges were asked to show the marks/points given to each contestant. Everything was checked and calculated again. There was no mistake  found in it. The MC apologised but the seeds of mistrust and anger were sown. I felt bad for the children who had to witness this fight by the adults whether they were winners or losers. Chain whatsapp messages abusing the winners started getting forwarded amongst the Chawls. Wonder why we have prizes in any game or sports? I know one institute called ‘Primrose’, which gives Prize to every participant no demarcation whatsoever. We need more ‘Primroses’ in this world.

Next day’s ‘Haldi Kumkum’ ceremony in the Chawl was cancelled as the tempers were flying high. ‘Haldi Kumkum ceremony is for married women. Turmeric and vermillion is put on the forehead of married women. The ceremony includes making Rangoli, design on the floor with colours and rice powder, playing traditional Marathi games, singing traditional old songs. There is a small return gift which is usually a ‘ Shringaar’ item given, like ‘Bindi’, Green bangles, or a earrings. Political parties in Maharashtra do ‘Haldi Kumkum’ ceremonies to gather the women voters. It is not just an event in rural areas but in cities too. At home, Haldi Kumkum is done to welcome the married women. A Married lady is worshipped as a form of Goddess Durga. It is held in the evening. The lady of the house invites 8,9 or 11 women to her home. Puts Haldi Kumkum, gives them milk with dryfruits to drink, some snacks and sweets. This Ram Navmi, I went for Kanya Puja with my children. The hostess had cooked a lavish South Indian meal without tasting and it tasted perfect. While cooking for the Prasaad, the food is not tasted by the cook or anyone else till it is offered to the God and the Kanya i.e. the young girls called for the Puja.  Seeing and experiencing the Divinity in human beings is practiced in every ritual. She applied Haldi, Chuna and Kumkum on the feet of the children. The toes and the front of the foot was covered with this auspicious paste. Chuna is calcium carbonate which is used for orthopaedic purpose. Turmeric has antiseptic properties.

In Jharia, if one of us had a fall, Mom, Chachi, Granny or Sitaram whoever was at home would immediately apply Haldi powder. We never even had a Savlon or Dettol antiseptic at home in a house of six children. Only home made remedies were used. For a sprain, warm dough of  atta haldi and oil was applied with an old cloth. Alternatively one could use onion crushed and warmed, applied on the wound. All pain was gone with this. Gauri Bai made a powder for digestion and some dark bitter syrup for cleansing the blood. Any stomach pain, we were never given deworming tablets. Our Doctors did not prescribe medicines if rest and fluids could cure us.