Monday, September 21, 2015

♫♫♫.........I am 500 hundred miles away from home......♫♫♫....


I open the blinds of my balcony to let the sun in. A new day smiles. I look around and see not a single soul stirring. But the day still holds promise, for the verdant view outside makes me feel fresh and meditative. I crave for my hot cup of tea and head towards my kitchen. The clink and clank of pot and pan and finally the water is boiling and the tea leaves simmer in it. To make it pungent, I add ginger and the smell of it makes me come alive. How I love that aroma! Milk and sugar added, my cup is ready. Ah, that first sip in the morning - don't you relate to it, my dear tea-lovers! But isn't there something missing today? Yes, that chit-chat with my mother, that little companionship I enjoyed the past three months when I was in India. Not to mention that wonderful window in my mom's kitchen that let the outside world in every morning. Be it the rickshaw-wallah, the gigantic bull, the holy cows, the throng of vehicles, school-buses picking and dropping kids, or be it some parades or rallies where people protested for their rights , or be it the flooded roads where people stood stalled as their cars or scooters gave way, I saw it all. So today, as I tried to enjoy my tea in my isolated balcony, I reflected on the past few months and decided to write down my thoughts.

Sudoku Mornings with HT and my lovely Bhabhi!

Mornings without newspapers is unimaginable in India. So, with tea comes the newspaper. And with newspaper, my favorite Hindustan Times (HT), came Sudoku puzzles. Those who have had an addiction to these puzzles will understand how engrossing they are. And oh boy, the moment you get it all wrong! So, much to the chagrin of my mom who wanted my attention for a good conversation, I would drown myself into the newspaper trying to solve the puzzles. It was going fine until my bhabhi stepped in and gave it a try too, only to get hooked for the entire span of days I was there. Can you imagine how angry moms can get at this....! I am laughing as I remember mom asking both of us to stop this Sudoku fever. But, we are helpless and see only 1 to 9 all around!



My bhabhi with her daughter....




Image Source here


Kids Smile, Socialize, Smile....

What is it that makes one yearn for that life in India so much? My little kids go crazy as they have helluva good time. With so much love pouring in on them from all directions, they are pampered and spoiled. They become little social butterflies, forgetting toys and cartoons and engage socially in ways that are hard to imagine in US. Some might disagree with my opinion here but I don't intend to generalize. This is my personal opinion and something I witnessed my kids doing. As they added new words to their Hindi dictionary, I giggled at the questions my son would ask hearing songs (What does Ishq barse mean mom....from the song Teri meri kahani from Gabbar!). He finally decided to learn to play the song on his Casio and is these days humming and playing it. My daughter too is infected with the melodious music and has caught on the lyrics. Nani-dadi would often smile at the little aberrations my two year old daughter made while picking up the things she heard from people around her. And not to mention her new-found love for the colorful dresses everyone wears in India - from dupattas to heels, from ear-rings to bangles, she absorbed it all! Bhabhi's mom and my mom-in-law stitched beautiful dresses for her and the way she would sashay in those outfits and reach the mirror to admire herself was amusing and fun watch to watch.


Cookies or Traditional Sweets - What's your pick?

India is incomplete without its myriad rituals and festivals. Feasting with delicacies is so much a part of everyday life there. People flock restaurants on birthdays and festivals, and sometimes, just for some merry-making. So it won't be surprising to find your favorite food-corner completely packed even on week-days! Yes, I was surprised too! But they come to enjoy and enjoyment does not have to wait for weekends. Be prepared to drool over those fluffy pumped-up bhaturas or those crispy mile-long dosas as you wait for your order! Then the vying for exquisite ice-cream flavors (the Popsicles in India have absolutely no match anywhere in the world!) and moong-dal halwa or that oh-so-divine gulab-jamun. Some would say we have all those things in US. Well, it does taste different in India. Give it a try!




Will they disappear if cookies take over?!!! Image Source here
And then during that stay in India came Raksha-Bandhan - a day that celebrates the bond of love between brother and sister. There are mythological as well as historical legends associated with the tradition that you can read here. Markets wore vibrant hues as multicolored threads with beads, mirrors and crystals shone brightly from all shops. The star attraction this year however was 'bajrangi bhaijan' rakhi for kids which I bought for Rs.70. One could see the excitement on the boys' face as they wore it with pride forgetting the festival and remembering only selfie le le Bajrangi! And although much of the things reminded me of the past years I had spent in India, there was one change I saw coming. And that was the invasion of cookies over sweets. I saw people buying baskets of cookies, (Frontier brand played the first fiddle for many, and believe me, there is something special in those egg-less biscuits!) instead of laddoos, barfi or gulab-jamuns. People these days prefer to buy them over traditional mithais owing to the increasing contamination in food-products. (Poor Maggi noodles!). No wonder the Ghante-wala shop in Chandni Chowk in Delhi closed its doors to its customers. I wish and hope that mithai-walas realize this soon and stop adulteration so that some of these sweet traditions don't become history.


That's my niece and my son on Raksha Bandhan...




Me with kiddos at Kingdom of Dreams, Gurgaon



Nation's Tallest Tiranga and Making of a Smart City

Town Park in Sector-12 in Faridabad has become the proud owner of the tallest Tiranga. As we passed through the park an umpteen number of times, the Flag stood tall and filled us with pride. And then came the announcement of the Smart City projects from PM Modi. While everyone hoped that Faridabad too would get shortlisted for the smart city, I thought of the small changes people themselves could make to change their city to the city of their dreams. Small steps like sensible garbage disposal, like reduction of food and water wastage, like following traffic rules even when no-one is watching, like respect and regards to the person next door, like hearing and acting on consumer complaints at once - don't you think these little actions can make a huge difference? Allocation of funds from the government to make the city better is definitely a good thing. But those funds cannot change temperaments and raging angers of people who live there. Take for instance Gurgaon whose face has completely changed over the past few years. But people behave recklessly, roads have improper drainage which adds to commuters' woes during monsoons and traffic seems like a hungry monster raising its scary face every day. Mismanagement and passing the buck are two problems that need to be dealt with and each individual can make a difference.


Mobile towers are becoming common-place these days as the smart-city's failed connections and call drops irk and agitate customers. There are speculations on whether they pose a health hazard. And as people debate with half knowledge on the subject, life goes on. Will there be a day when internet connectivity becomes smooth and accessing websites, paying bills, submitting and getting response to one's queries, esp. on government websites , becomes a cake-walk. I hope so. And I also hope that during my next visit to India, I am able blog effortlessly and without any interruption!



Image Source here


Reliving mom's childhood through her memories



Those who know me also know that I wish to write a book on my mom. So during this trip, I spent moments pestering her to narrate details about her childhood. As she went on a joyride thinking about everyone from The Flintstones to the Beatles, I pictured her in a Romanian street swinging to the tunes of Podul de Piatra, a rhyme she learnt and has remembered to this day. The rhyme is a song of promise and hope. Children see that their stone bridge is broken. Instead of feeling sad, they decide to build a new one which will be even more beautiful. I am sharing a link from YouTube that I found and showed her too which filled her with child-like delight.




It was with such pleasure that I made her hear songs that had been a part of her long long ago. She remembered Joan Baez, a popular American singer of her times and went through an extensive song list of the singer on YouTube. Her young heart fluttered at the tune of Michelle by The Beatles and her girlish self sparkled in front of me at the tune of I want to hold your hand.









A slightly old pic of my mom with my son....




The trip that lasted for three months had so much to offer - countless little moments that made life worthwhile. As my kids built their little worlds around those who loved them so much, I basked too in the warmth that I felt emanating all around. These were times I will cherish for a long time, probably until I make another such trip and feel blessed in the company of my loved ones. There are miles in between us now. And I find myself humming another song from my mom's childhood, which coincidentally enough, my niece has been learning these days in her school....I am five hundred miles away from home....








This post has been selected by BlogAdda for its Tangy Tuesday Picks!



18 comments:

  1. Wonderful read Sunaina.:)

    Cheers
    Sriram & Krithiga

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  2. Lovely account of your stay Sunaina. Btw I love the song 500 miles away from home.

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    1. Thanks for reading through Somali.....yes, the song is so so beautiful.......:)

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  3. Beautiful and heartwarming post, Sunaina. Loved reading it. And adorable pictures :)

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  4. Lovely sentiments penned Sunaina. They resonate with all of us at one time or another. Keep writing...

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    1. Thanks....I am a bit confused.....is it you Didi....?......Welcome here.....:)

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  5. It was indeed an heartwarming post. Enjoyed reading it throughout.
    That quote on sudoku was great..as is sudoku..if you get the right numbers ;)

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    1. Yes Hargun...even I loved the quote so much....thanks for reading it though....I did not intend it to be long but I just went on and on even though I did not cover all about the trip....:)

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  6. Congratulations! Your blog post was selected for Tangy Tuesday Picks edition on September 29, 2015 at BlogAdda.

    Please find it here: http://blog.blogadda.com/2015/09/29/tangy-tuesday-picks-september-29-2015

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    1. Thank you so much Team BlogAdda....this means a lot to me.......:)

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  7. wow!!!such a nice post sunaina. Enjoyed very much reading it.Wonderful pics !!!!

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    1. Thanks Padma....I just realized it's you....Thanks for reading it.....:)

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