Category: India – Culture & Life


Suddenly my life has been taken over my colors. It’s a pleasant surprise after a rather bleak beginning to 2012 and all the white-wally-ness of it, life has suddenly been taken over by laughter, smiles, love and lots and lots of colors.

Holi this year brought the realization of just how beautiful life could be. After perhaps 10 years, I spent Holi with my older cousins. Yes, I was the kid once again (refer to previous blog) and perhaps suffered because I was also the target for lots of color and water guns lol. Buckets upon buckets of color and water (and colored water) were thrown on me, and while everyone prayed that I didn’t fall sick again, they also made sure that this was a really memorable Holi for me.

As if that wasn’t enough to make me happy, Dad and I went on a 3 hour long drive and I got to see his dorm from when he was in college! I’ve heard so many stories revolving around this place that seeing it in person just put a big smile on my face.

I just know two things – I’m happy and I’m lucky. Honestly, that is ALL that matters because all this love can beat anything that comes my way.

My life is complete.

(Oh and a good friend of mine, practically like a sis to me, shared something with me right before Holi that made me even happier!)

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Some movies just show us life as it is. Guzaarish was one such movie. I’m not influenced by the cast of the movie or the emotions that flow through it, but by the truth in it and the reality it makes us face.

Our natures are reliable, as people. We believe and battle because giving up isn’t easy. We have a point to prove to ourselves and we owe appreciation to life. But, after all of that, there’s a point when even giving up can become  a goal – and then we believe and battle to achieve ‘defeat’, for it is in fact a victory in its own right…

If you are interested in religion and have been brought up in India, there is no doubt that you have heard about ‘Arya Samaj’ and ‘Sanatan Dharma’. But what exactly is the broad difference between the two?

Let me begin by an epiphany I just had. My grandparents on both sides are fairly religious, but somehow I’ve only ever heard my maternal grandmother tell me stories of various Gods and Goddesses. My maternal side happens to perform rather frequent ‘hawans’ or chantings around fire. This is often also called ‘Agni Puja’ or the prayer of fire. I recently realized that I have never heard tales of Gods and Goddesses from my maternal grandmother, and I have never seen a ‘hawan’ take place at my paternal side of the family.

They both happen to belong to different “sects” of Hinduism, if you will. While Sanatan Dharma believes in the presence of Gods and Goddesses and considers Ramayana and Maha-bharata sources of religious texts, the hawan-performing Arya Samajis believe in no such thing and strictly draw their religious knowledge from the vedas. They do not believe in multiple Gods and Goddesses, and perform nature worship. In essence, you could call the the Hindu-version of pagans.

There… that is the difference between the two. I feel rather keenly towards both of these sections of people but I appreciate the difference as well.  Hope this helped clear some concepts because I can’t believe that I only noticed the difference after 22 years of living in India…

This is going to sound strange, but I usually dream of snakes before something bad is about to happen or before a crisis occurs in the family. I wouldn’t want to believe it but it’s like a fore-warning. I suppose snakes aren’t really all that bad as we make them seem.

So, I was studying up on this whole Nag Panchami thing, which is a festival in India where snakes are revered. People, it is said, keep milk outside for snakes to come and drink some on this auspicious day. But, here’s the kick… snakes don’t drink milk, and if they do and are unable to digest it, they die. So basically  instead of praying to the snakes or actually revering them, we might in fact be killing them by providing them milk.

You might ask why the snake would drink milk if:

1. Milk is a mammal drink and not required or usually drank by snakes.. it isn’t for reptiles!
2. If it kills them

Here are the answers to those two questions. Snake-charmers usually don’t give their snakes water and food for a while before Nag Panchami. So, on that particular day, when the snakes find access to milk they drink it to soothe their parched throats and to satisfy their hunger. Essentially, they have no choice but to drink the milk for it is almost a matter of survival. And then, if they digest it, well and good… let’s hope they don’t drink it again, but if they don’t.. you have just caused another being of this earth his/her brutal death.

So, next time anyone feels like revering snakes or wants to adhere to the true spirit of Nag Panchami, leave some water out please. It will probably serve the snake better…

Cheers!

I had this really random thought today. To be honest, it has crossed my mind a few times in the last few years, but I guess I really,seriously thought about it today. I think I want to own a hookah!

Yesterday, I was walking around Priya’s… and having not been there in a while, I was shocked to see that hookah’s were being sold all over the place. Perhaps that’s what made me think of it even more seriously. Now, I must say that I didn’t think these were the best hookahs to buy, but frankly, I have no idea where to get the good ones and Google isn’t being of much help. I don’t want to order one online, just to make this experience more real I suppose.

So here I am, contemplating spending a small amount in getting a hookah to put in my room… when the time comes, I’ll know a better place to get one and I’ll buy a more authentic one… Of course, these are just the ramblings of my mind but  I might actually get one to put somewhere in my room!

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while and haven’t really had the chance to. I was recently on my way out of town with a friend and came across a sight that I can’t help but use as food for thought.

To my right, beyond the trees, was a dirt path and a father was carrying his son on his shoulders. I looked at them and instantly thought of home. It brought back memories of a care-free childhood and nostalgia slowly crept in. Life has been generous to me and given me plenty to cherish… I will soon be on my way home. Awaiting my arrival is my father, a man who has loved me and will love me no matter what how grave a crime I commit and a mother who runs her hand through my hair to wake me up each morning.

I’m seeing past the turmoil in my life right now and smiling at memories of my dad lifting me on his shoulders and walking barefoot on the morning dew…

A Drive In Rural India

A Drive In Rural India

We drove for a while yesterday all the way to Vrindavan and Mathura, and then the vicinity. It proved to be a rather long but fun drive. Here’s a picture of me taking water from a water pump that we found near a rural railway crossing where we had to halt for a while.

I realized that I would never have stepped out of the car and done this if I had not moved to USA. So, this just added yet another simple but cool experience to my life. It’s a shock we never look at the minor things in life and ignore them so much that they end up being an experience in themselves if and when we get to them…

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, the kind that I would spend out on the terrace with my family. November’s chill has begun getting to the bones and thoughts of the strong rays of sunshine that nature bestows on New Delhi bring back memories.

It’s a nostalgic moment that I am spending in my room in South Carolina – the blinds are shut and the heat is on. There is no sign of nature’s warmth in the chilly mornings and late afternoons, neither the sounds of birds chirping excitedly as they return to their nests. Our hearts long for the childhood spent in the tranquil and safe boundaries of home. Returning to the haven where there is nothing to worry about and smiles come without effort has become a dream. Years will go by and adulthood would have crept in when I live that life again. The sunshine would be the same, and so would the laughter and familiar voices, but this heart would have changed – burdened with the responsibilities that come when you are no longer a child. It would be time to take my role as an individual instead of spending hours laying my head on my mom’s lap and enjoying the carefree and serene life that childhood has to offer…

I have many American friends who love bollywood movies or who would love to watch some. For those of you Indians who are settled abroad and want to introduce your friends to some good Indian movies, here are a few you can begin with.

Jab We Met – A sweet and light romantic movie. I hesitate to call it a comedy but it certainly will make most laugh out loud at various parts.

Rang De Basanti – A serious movie with issues such as Indian freedom discussed with a taste of how Indian college life and friendships are. It’s worth a watch, but just a little hard to follow without having an Indian there to explain some portions despite the subtitles – it’s due to the historical parts.

Kal Ho Na Ho – This was a remake of an old Indian movie. I have no idea how to describe this one, I can just say it’s a very good movie.

Woh Lamhe – Not a lot of people settled abroad know of this movie, but it is one of my personal favourites. The story line is great and the concepts just awesome. The best part about it is, it is actually a true story for the most part.

Lagaan – See the British-Indian spirit while India was still under colonial rule.

Samay – Again, a hard to find personal favourite. This is a bollywood thriller for those of you who enjoy thrillers.

Don – If you like action movies, you might like this.. it’s an interesting piece of work.

Umrao Jaan – Old or new, either one works.. its a great work depicting the life of a an unfortunate lady in a lesser known setting coming from India.

Hopefully this helps those of you who need or have a friend who needs a neat introduction to Bollywood/Hindi movies!

Feel free to leave comments with other suggestions, I’m sure it will come in handy for someone!

It was Diwali today – October 28th, 2008. One of the major Indian holidays and a widely celebrated festival among various religions such as hinduism, sikhism, buddhism and jainism. Although many legends are associated with this festival, the use of various kinds of lights, “diya” -earthen, oil-fed lamps signify the victory of good over evil within every human being.

Anyway, now that the basic explanation of this occasion is done – I MISS HOME! I miss the amazing food and the fire crackers, the diyas and the rangoli (an art form that is used to decorate floors). We also made “gharonda” or house of God and I miss the sweet sounds of arti/prayers before dinner. It reminds me of my grandmother when I think of the way “prasad” is kept in earthen, painted pots and the way everything in the house is  I miss seeing all our family and friends, a day without grudges and a day of pure joy. Oh the memories of this festival are just so special to me. 

I won’t even type more about it because it’s hard on me…It’s on days like this that you miss home the most…