Sunday, October 18, 2009

The thing about Diwali

There is something about Diwali (and Dussera too). It does something to the atmosphere around. The changes are so palpable. The weather takes a turn towards chillness. People are nostalgic about home, people take vacations no matter what ( my sisters colleagues have no leaves since they are in training period and they don't earn very high bucks either. But just for one day to be with family on Diwali, they have taken flights spending nearly half their monthly salaries and gone home! )It makes you want to be with your loved ones. It makes people scoot from office early. It makes you feel like cooking something special in spite of having slogged at office for good 9 hours. Everyone wishing the other person a happy Diwali just spreads the cheer magically. I am not sure if thats the case with everyone, but I feel so festively happy! As they say we should search for excuses to be happy - I do so oh so often.

Last year Diwali was my first one after marriage. The first Diwali after wedding is a very highlighted affair in TamilNadu. But I must confess, it started off on a very bad note for the lack of education. I had no idea, how differently it is celebrated in TamilNadu compared to back at my paternal place in Orissa. At my parents place, the whole day is spent in decorating the house and keeping things ready for the big bang in the evening. We spend the day fishing for diyas, counting the number of them still preserved from the past years, asking dad to scurry and get some more, deciding on which design to put the diyas and the rangoli in, helping mom in cooking the yummiliciuos breakfast, lunch and dinner. I always remember the night before Diwali we all deciding on the elaborate menus. We sisters were never of much help, but we used to keep talking around the kitchen and generally giving my mom company while she sweated over the dishes. Food and talks in the morning and evening would be spent on the veranda and terrace placing the diyas and then it would be cracker time! See...... this is what Diwali does.... makes you feel so nostalgic.

But last year, since I was not aware, how Diwali starts in TamilNadu before the break of dawn, there was a bit of upset emotions at home. And morning does show the day, so there was nothing to write home about for the entire day. There were forced smiles and uneasy reconciliations. But then, people learn. Last year I was a newbie, still adjusting to the symphony played here( I had read this analogy in some other blog and borrowed it :) ) This year, I was ready with my own composition apart from being ready to do my part for the original orchestra. I took my own time and space and got ready in the morning. We were invited for lunch to K's aunt's house. On the way back, I bought diyas (its not a tradition out here to light diyas on Diwali - they do so on another day called Karthik Deepam I guess ) . But then, a little extra celebration does not hurt at all. So all armed with the diyas and rangoli colors, I set forth in the evening to celebrate Diwali as I know it. Made some patterns on the balcony and the front door and places those lovely diyas. It is really heartening to see the diyas fight out the winds and stay aflame - it fills me with a very positive vibe. The words tamasoma jyotir gamaya (from darkness let us move to light) subconsciously keeps reverberating in my mind. The icing on the cake came when one neighbor aunty came and said "Perfect blend of north and south, only this apartment is lighted with all these small diyas and looks very cute from a distance." I had an ear to ear grin :D

Decorations done, I caught up with friends and family. What if we are not together, we should use technology to the max. For that matter since early morning K and I were making lots of calls. Evening I spoke with some very close friends and my mom and sister for hours on end. Dinner was parathas with curd and I made some extra coconut laddus to carry to office. (Diwali makes you put in that extra effort right?)An early end to the spirited day gave me the most rested feeling. Next year, I plan a bigger better evening. More sweets, more intricate designs, more savories, more time with my family.

It was a good Diwali, touchwood. And people I cared for had a good Diwali. I was concerned for a friend of mine who was all alone. But then, when I called and checked up with her, she had surprise company. My sister who was away from home for the first time, was also doing fine. The world does hold a mirror to ones own thoughts.

I hope all my readers had a wonderful Diwali. And here s wishing you all lots of good times ahead.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Different experience same nostalgia

Last year I had written this* about how difficult it was to get back to normal pace of life after the Dussera vacations last year.

I would be holding a hazy mirror to the same scenario with this post of mine.
This time my parents made a trip to Chennai - not so much for me but for my darling sis who was coping with work and who has no vacations for 8 long months. The day they reached, ironically again, I had a major career move's decision date. I was anticipating the worst, the thing to go haywire, the whole plan to fall like a pack of cards and all my preparations to go in utter waste, and that - is exactly what happened. (Again just like last year when I had planned something important one day before the date of travel)This time, I was the least bit disappointed. I was rather thrilled, as I hopped into the auto rickshaw from office to scurry home at 1130. I could barely control my eagerness. When I reached home my mom squealed in delight. When mil asked about the result and I said "failed" with the biggest smile on earth, she was so puzzled :) But then who gave a darn to darn work when family was around.

K also had taken leave on the day just to be with everyone. It was a very pleasant day with all of us sitting and chatting and having loads and loads of coffee. Papa loves the Chennai brand filter coffee and will never say no when offered one. When he has a cup it takes a lot of will power to resist having a cup for others. So all of us ended up having nearly 4 cups of coffee each day and those too at very weird moments. One time we had at 1430 in the afternoon! Evening was full of sporadic visits to neighbors and then a trip to the temple. Mom and dad started off the night to Mysore to be with kiddo sis.

I could barely wait for the 4 days to get over when they would be back from Mysore. Since mom had a conference at Cochin the very next week they had planned to be at Chennai. Dad was to proceed to BBSR from here and mom to Cochin. Those 4 days when they were at Mysore passed at snail's pace for me. My sister felt they went away too soon - hmm relativity of time always works. Finally on one fine Wednesday morning they were back :) Mil was supposed to start on that day on a 15 day pilgrimage. So it more like my parents and us. It felt as if I was at my paternal home at BBSR rather than being in Chennai. My mom took complete control of the cooking just like she does back at her home. She did not allow me to step in (though I did to show off my culinary prowess to my dad :) ) It was really endearing to be taken care of by my mommy. My dad built up his own routine out here. They were to stay for 5 days with us - so he took to walking on the beach, he would fetch the vegetables and any immediate groceries, he would run itsy bitsy errands. In fact in a kid like fashion he used to ask if anything was over in the house so that he could make a quick trip to the nearby shops. Mom and I used to think, the shopkeepers were going to miss Papa once he left for BBSR.

To be with my parents as much as I can, I stopped going to they gym and being there for an hour. And to add fuel to the fire, my mom got preparing authentic Oriya delicacies. I did not intend to curtail myself at all to the awesome treat. I gave two hoots to weight, to my struggling dietitian (shes completely puzzled at the resilience of the fat content of my body) and to my gym instructor ( she still dreads the day she took me under her wing - I am a black mark on her appraisal document :( )I let my tongue have a ball and made my stomach work the hardest digesting all the food :) Ah! It does feel very very good to break all the rules :D :D

All the days I felt enveloped in a warmth which only and only parents can give. One day we 3 went out for shopping and it seriously felt like old times at BBSR. My parents paying up for everything, mom and I insistent of having road side food, dad barring us from having them, us still having them inspite of his objections, buying junk jewelery, marauding sarees at the famous stores around T.Nagar - we filled an entire evening with togetherness. My mom and I many a times used to venture out just like that for a long walk and street side shopping (Dad was too busy with cricket matches to care for a walk). All the while I did have a heckling thought though - I was going to be miserable when they leave. But till they were here, I postponed feeling sad.

And when they did leave, it felt no different. Felt no different from the way I had felt when I had left BBSR last year after the puja vacations. This time the tables were just a bit turned - it was my turn to come back to an empty house after seeing off my parent. My turn to see no more luggages on the room. My turn to see no extra clothes on the clothes wire. My turn to be alone in the kitchen, to be alone reading the paper and also having the coffee. Everything seemed purposeless and so insubstantial. I miss you both......

*( Ironically in the post, I had used the word 'home' for my parent's place in Bhubaneswar and used the word 'house' for our place in Chennai. I am not a person to make such mistakes, but then sometimes the sub conscious is more powerful I suppose. Last year, since I was a novice at married life, I was yet to cut the umbilical I guess)