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I Wish You Were Here!

It was right after the day, Varad left for Reading on a three-month long onsite client assignment. The family had celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi together before he departed and the feeling of joy and festivity still lingered in the house. But amidst all the chaos, Jharana could sense it clearly. How could she have ignored the visible signs? She had her doubts about it for a week and this morning it became very clear. She was too nervous to find out. She could hardly believe it was happening to her. “I have to be careful”, were the first thoughts that came across her mind. She sat there for 20 minutes, before slowly picking herself, she walked towards the bathroom. The dipstick had changed its color confirming her doubts. She looked at herself in the mirror, a sense of joy and excitement sweeped within her. Tears of happiness trickled down her face, as she couldn’t contain her new-found joy. “Diiidddii”,  she heared her Bai screaming, “tumcha sathi phone ahes” (there’s a call for you).

Jharana walked slowly towards the living room, she saw Aayi (her mother-in-law) chatting with her mother on the phone. “You seem to be very happy today”, her mother teased her and she smiled. After the phone conversation, Jharana asked Aayi to go with her to Dr. Gaikwad’s Clinic  for a routine ultra-sound check-up.

The clinic was a 10 minute walk from their Prabha Devi residence. Jharana had already taken an appointment before leaving. The front desk assistant asked her to fill the new patient and medical history forms. She patiently waited for her turn. Dr. Gaikwad’s assistant ushered both inside and prepared Jharana for the sonography. Dr. Gaikwad, a man in his fifties came in. He smiled at Jharana and said “Hi! How you doing today”,  and she replied back smiling shyly “I’m doing fine, thank you”. “And who has come along with you”,  he asked turning towards Aayi. “My mother-in-law”, she replied back. “So I see you are here for your routine check up”, “let’s get going”, Dr. Gaikwad said preaparing to go ahead with the test. Jharana’s body tensed up and her heart silently praying everything to be okay as she felt the cold gel on her abdomen. She could hear the clock ticking. “I see something here and its 8cm in diameter” – Dr. Gaikwad remarked pressing the transducer on her abdomen and inching towards the monitor. Aayi got up and closed up near the screen. “Looks like someone is definitely pregnant” he said smilingly. She heaved a sigh of relief and finally started breathing. Aayi kept staring at the monitor. The doctor congratulated her and started explaining the images the sound waves made, “Bagaa, ethe ……..” (Look here).

Jharana was into her 6th week of the nine months journey. She and Aayi couldn’t stop crying, “you wil be blessed with a Ganesh” was all Aayi could manage to say in between wiping her tears. She was due for the second check up on her 8th week to hear the first heart beat. Aayi dialed Varad’s UK number and congratulated him on the “good news”. Jharana and Varad couldn’t hide their happiness.

Jharana’s emotion’s heightened, within two weeks. She and Aayi found a new definition to their relationship. They enjoyed their times discussing her three pregnancies, her feelings during those days, her cravings, her fears, her joys, bringing up kids and many more motherhood experiences. Jharana was enjoying her life’s new turn and was looking forward to her new role.

“Jhaleka ga”, (Are you ready?) Aayi said checking on Jharana. “Ho Aayi, aali” (yes, I’m coming). She adjusted her duppatta, checked her bindi and slipped her feet into the matching chappals. This time they decided to take a taxi. The clinic did not have much patients and the staff was preparing to close in an hour. Dr. Gaikwad walked towards them and said “How’s the Aaji doing?” (How’s the grand mom doing?) teasing Aayi. “Excited to hear my grandchild”- she replied back without any hesitation. Jharana prepared for the test. As Dr. Gaikwad started applying the gel on her abdomen, her body tensed up again and her heart started praying. She closed her eyes when the transducer started moving. She could hear the clock ticking, ticking and ticking…..she became nervous, this was taking unusually long, she opened her eyes. Dr. Gaikwad’s expression had changed, his face had become still. “I want to do this again, the sound waves and images don’t make sense” – was all he said after 5 mins. “Is everything, okay? – Jharana questioned. “I can’t find the fetus” – he replied back without taking his eyes off from the monitor. Her heart sank, her body turned numb, she couldn’t breath, “no there’s a mistake here” was all she could think off. Dr. Gaikwad started the procedure again, this time he moved the transducer with more precision,after three minutes, Jharana couldn’t stop herself “Do you see anything now?”, “I do”, he replied back, “the size of the fetus has shrunk” – he gave out. Jharana went blank, she didn’t follow Dr, Gaikwad. “I fear a missed abortion – he said without looking at Jharana, “and I advice a D&C”. He was finding it difficult to convey it to her.

Jharana felt amputed. She felt a part of her body has body taken away, she could hear Dr. Gaikwad’s voice but was having difficulty concentrating. Her only thoughts were “this can’t be true, this cannot be happening to me”. She was fighting within to accept it and she was far from acceptance. She was in a state of shock and denial. There was a sudden sense of loss, anger and guilt. She felt as if she lost the purpose of her existence. As she lay on the sonography table with a roller coaster of emotions surging within her, all her thoughts centred around ” I wish I could hold you first on the day you were born. I  wish I could read bedtime stories and watch you sleep. I wish I could celebrate your birthdays. I wish I could attend the PTA meets. I wish I could see you graduate from college. I wish I could see you sailing through life. I wish I could see your wedding. I wish I could spoil your kids. I wish our lives were changed forever because of you. I wish you were here.

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30 New Turns Before I Turn 30

I was born on the 18th day of January, 82 and I was a day pre-mature baby girl. And just because I was supposed to be born on the 19th Jan instead of 18th, my Father always remembered the Estimated Date of Delivery as my birthday all through my growing up years. Please, imagine how many times I had to correct him and he actually filled in the EDD date on my school application forms too! Parents I tell you. If this was not enough, the city (Rourkela) I was born in decided to have curfew imposed, I don’t know for what reason on the very day I was born. So my Dad got my Mom admitted in the Hospital a day early, because of the curfew, and I decided to see the light of the world a day early and my rest of the family was blissfully unaware of my birth, till my Father decided to check in on my Mom after the curfew was lift up and was surprised by ME! Since that day I was named “Curfewwali” by my Grand – dad.

Come 2012 it’s going to be a milestone birthday. On the 18th day of Jan, 12 I will turn “30”. So what does it mean to me? While I’m inching towards my milestone birthday, I get to take the time to look at a new vision for my 30s. I have stopped trying to find myself and started creating myself. I have great experiences from my past and so now I get to add new ones!

A major birthday like 30 means better presents! (To all my friends who are reading this ;P) If I have learned nothing else from Desperate Housewives, 40 is the new 30 and 30 is the new 20 (I actually had this iced on my Brother-in-law’s birthday cake who turned 31 recently.) People naturally take you more seriously when you are in your 30s.You get to smile when people can not believe you are 30. Instead of stressing about acne, I can stress about wrinkles and white hair. When I was younger 30 was OLD, now I feel 30 is young. I maybe turning 30 but I will still always be the youngest in my family. Turning 30 makes you appreciate your 20’s and look forward to your 40s. Like the Christina Aguilera song it “Keeps getting Better“.

So why am I ranting and raving about my coming of age, which has still 6 more months to go. Yes, only six more months! And it occurred to be while I was wining and dining with my hubby dearest. I thought what should I do to remember my turning 30th in a special way? I quickly took stock in trade of my life’s past experiences and concluded what better way to learn new things, push my boundaries to achieve them and set new standards and respect for oneself. Hence I have decided to embrace 30 new lessons of life before I turn 30 and that starts from today and this post will be updated every time I succeed with a new attempt.

So Here I Go –

  1. Turning To Organic Food–  I have turned completely organic and have resolved to have diets free of food grown with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or genetic engineering. As an informed personal and an eco – friendly person this is a very important “TURN” towards being healthy and well nourished. I also give towards protecting the future generations, saving energy, preventing soil erosion, protecting our water supply, protecting farm workers and supporting local economy.
2. Turning To Be More Active Socially – I remember the good old days, when I used to get back from school and would immediately get on the phone and keep chatting with my friends for hours. My parents could never digest the fact that after spending good 5 hours together in school I still would find things to talk and discuss endlessly. I too miss those days 😦 . With passage to time and re-locating to many cities I too lost in touch with few good friends who still mean a lot to me. With the invent of social media it is possible to “creep” in their lives, but I still can’t wipe tears of my Mom’s face when we “Skype” or give a tight hug to a friend who’s upset of the fact that she can’t have kids on the phone. I have realized the importance of reaching out to people. And I am going to do that more actively this decade.
3. Turning To Be Off Gadgets and Internet – One day the Hubz returned from work and found that the TV in the living room screamed off  “Star Plus”, the one in the bedroom had “Netflix” running, the desktop in our study had “Pandora” on and I was with my smartphone checking FB & Twitter updates. That was it. We decided to do away with the Dish Network, No cellphones allowed when we are sleeping and when at home we are allowed to have two hours of internet access. Trust me, life  has been so good after that and its been three weeks and our “quality time” with each other has improved considerably.
4. Turning To Meditation – Now with most of the vices in my life gone and having more productive time at hand I turned to join a Mediation Group near my place. I have a great teacher and amazing group mates. The only problem I “doze” off to sleep as it is so divinely relaxing rather focusing within me. There are also few great android and i-pad apps which one can download for free and can try doing it at home, office, any where (but not when driving) to counter attack stress, anxiety and overactive nervous system.
5. Turning To Art & Craft – To be honest I have never done any art & craft in my life. The ones that were mandatory in school my mom would step up and take charge. Though I have always admired the artistic qualities in people who turn out beautiful handmade cards, quilts, dresses, mittens, sweaters etc, I never dared to venture on that path. I can start small. I though of making something handmade f or everyone’s birthday. Be it a small card but the personal touch would add a smile on my folks face which cannot be replaced by the expensive gifts ordered to be sent from the internet.
6. Turning to Take A Vow Of Silence – This is more out of spiritual practice. A still tongue can teach me self restrain, discipline, focus and a check on the unguarded speech. Though the Hubz would be the happiest on those days 🙂

My Maa Said…..

It is a universal fact that many women become their own mothers. During my childhood and teenage years I always tried not to do what my mother said 🙂 but somehow those seeds of wisdom took root and before I knew it I was practicing her sayings and now I know deep within me that someday I would pass on the same to my daughter and may be in the same tone 😉

A mother-daughter equation is a celebration of world’s most precious relationship. It’s a bond where both share the invaluable lessons they have learnt about life, love and happiness. I would like to share the same here.

My Mother Taught Me :-

1. How to live my life. Never ever  I remember a day where she has compared me with my so very talented elder brother who was extremely talented in academics, amazing athlete, soft-spoken overall liked by all kinda guy.

2. Add pinch of love to everything that I do, it makes life taste sweeter. I have very happy memories of my growing up years. I have never seen my parents fight or have any disagreements in front of us. I have always seen my mum spread love and warmth around her.

3. Her strong sense of justice and fairness. Be it our pocket-money, curfew timings, living away from home, our weddings and her finally writing the will, my mother’s underlying sense of fairness has taught me that people ought to be treated as equals.

4. That everyone I meet is as important as I am. Tolerance towards others makes life both easier and richer.

5. That each generation has their own traits. She doesn’t expect people to be the way she was when she was young, and that reflects very prominently when she whole heartedly welcomed her daughter -in-law without imposing any traditional and cultural restrictions on her.

6. That a still tounge keeps a wise head. Me still learning 🙂

7. That there is no place like home. How true!

There’s a Jewish proverb that god could not be everywhere and he made mothers. I feel so blessed to have her in my life. The things maa said in past always warms my heart and brings a smile. Love you Maa!



Of Friends and Acquaintances…

Last night when I was done with my attempts of exploring the world of blogging, I sent e-mails to my friends about my current obsession with blogs and writing. withing 30 mins of shooting the e-mails I saw few gtalk windows popping up requesting me to change the privacy settings of my blog to Public for them to view.  Wow! And this is why I need my friends to be there for me. Thanks Susanta for guiding me how to do it.

This morning I woke up with a lot of excitement to check on the activity level on my blog. I received 41 visits in a matter of 12 hours, to celebrate I made special Spinach and Cheese Omelet for breakfast to treat myself. Little joys of life which friends give you.

Sushmita of http://bloomsnpetals.blogspot.com wrote a very encouraging message and officially welcomed me to the family. Sushmita and I have a very long history. We were flatmates in Bangalore (2006) and bonded very well during the stay. A strongly rooted person, Sush (as we all call her) has taught me to never get swayed away with temptations that life throws at you.

Talking about friends and acquaintances, who wouldn’t want to have people in their lives to either count on, hang out or have good times overall. Desouza’s (My elementary and both High School) Dipty has a very strong presence and impact. We were best of buddies, would compete for higher class rankings, do all the high schoolgirlish and teenage stuff, she taught me to loosen up and have fun in life.

Law School gave me zillions of friends and acquaintanceship but it was Saloni who left her footprints in my heart. Sal was madness and craziness personified. Brown eyes, typically bollywoodish,  girlish gossip, super hyper, extremely loving and giving in short Sal meant fun and life to me. Sadly I don’t have that fun and life any more, I lost Sal in 2006 and when I close my eyes and think of her, I see an angelic face smiling at me and saying “Moti tu tension maat le mein hoon na” (Fatso, Don’t worry am looking out for you). Thanks Sal for being the sister I never had.

My campus life (the place where my Dad worked) had an amazing group of kids, out of all Nanis and Bhainas (Oriya for Didis and Bhaiyas and the Indian way of addressing seniors of the same generation) I fondly remember Rinku Nani and Mamina Nani as my strong connections with my childhood. Incredibly strong women and amazing moms they have inspired me to not to lose out myself in the crowd and to the fast pace of our lives. With them I am the same Ginu (that’s what I’m fondly called at home) they knew.

My work took me to many cities in India and I have adored all the experiences. All the friends, acquaintances and colleagues I made and had had in many ways helped me evolve. Raj (Quislex) in Hyderabad instilled strong work ethics in me, Prashant, Sonia, Prathima, Karthik and others (Lawcomm Solicitors) of Bangalore made me fall in love with my work. Manish Lamba (Airtel) Delhi took me under his wings, Neil, Mahesh, Bhushan, Sara (Rely Services Inc.) Pune and Chicago, honed my business acumen, salesmanship, negotiations, networking skills and budgeting and still learning. Ain’t I incredibly fortunate?

I have an amazing set of parents and siblings in the family I am born to and married into.  Each of them in their unique ways have helped me transit gradually to be a better person each day. And to the friend I married to brings out the best and worst of me with each passing moments.

Lastly to Jean and Melissa my spiritual healers and for tuning me with myself and taught me to make friends with myself so that I’ll never be alone. 🙂

Photo Credit: Google Images

My First Post!

In my culture, at the onset of any new beginning we worship or remember our God and Godesses (Hindu religion has one for every reason) for auspiciousness. Hence I thought being a ritualistic Hindu I should start my blog the very same way. Now the question came whom should I remember? Wow, we have quite an exhaustive list. Lord Ganesha (he’s got the first right to be worshiped before anyone in his clan) definitely, though sadly I don not have any strong memories of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi while I was growing up in Rourkela as it wasn’t a very popular affair in Orissa. So talking about popular festivities “Durga Puja” immediately brings back fond memories of festivity and celebrations. So I dedicate my first post to “Ma Durga” and my experience with the celebrations.

When Bapi (my Army dude Big B) and I were growing up, Durga Pooja was a much awaited affair of the year. The first sign that the Poojas were not far away would be REC (now NIT) Pooja Pandal Committee members coming to our houses for contribution to their Pooja funds. If we give, we would get a token, to take to the Pandal for “Sandhi Bhog” (Ashtami Prasad).

And then as the days near, there would be frantic activity in the grounds where the pandals were made. There used to be intense competition among the pandals.  Some of them were so artistic!  The festive feeling would be in the air. There would be discounts in stores. We would discuss the new clothes we got. And then the school holidays would start. Pandals would blare out Bollywood songs – which then used to be fun, now I find loud music very infuriating.

The idols were totally awe-inspiring. Magestic looking Ma Durga poised triumphantly over Mahishasur! What better symbol of the power of a female goddess! At that time, everything seemed wonderful – the aarti, the drums and symbols in the background, the smell of camphor in the air… And the bhog! Yum! What is it about prasads and bhogs that make them so delicious?

I used to wait for “Sashthi, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami”. It was on Sashthi day, that we would all start visiting pandals. The main side attraction would be all the gupchups (Pani Purris), Chaats, Egg Rolls, Dhaibara Aloodum, Googni which even my majorly hygiene conscious mother would not object too much to, during the Pooja days. My parents could never fathom, how, we would gulp down spicy chats, which were too spicy by most standards. And we could walk for miles without complaining. Normally family friends would gather together at a place and go Pandal visiting together. It used to be a treat to meet classmates or school mates and compare how many pandals we had done. Some of the pandals, along with the eating stalls, also had huge Melas with giant wheels and all sorts of rides and exhibitions of arts and crafts.

My favorite was  always the Ashtami day, it marked the end of Navratra for Anu Aunty (our dear neighbor from Rajasthan) and I always used to look forward to “Kanjak” (A North Indian ritual where on the day of Ashtami people invite young girls to their homes, wash their feet and tie red color thread on their wrists. A tika is applied on the girl child’s forehead and are worshiped as Mother Goddess. The family members take blessing from the young child by touching their feet. The children are given ‘prasad,’ gifts and some money.) Pooja performed by her. I would eagerly wait for poori, kale channe ki sabzi and suji halwa prepared by her. Not to forget the gifts 😉 At home, Bou would ask me to prepare garlands for the Goddess and would teach me to prepare “Bhog” for Ashtami (poor thing never knew that all the teaching would never come into any use later :p).

Later when I got married into a Marathi family, the celebrations took a different turn. From the youngest one in the family who would wait for any festive occasion as an opportunity get her demands and wishes to be fulfilled; I had become a responsible elder daughter-in-law of the family who had the entire task of arranging and managing the whole chores. How equations change.

The Day of “Dasara” would begin with all the women folk waking up early, bathing and getting into their new set of clothes specially bought for the occasion. The entrance to the house and the Pooja Room is adorned with colorful Rangolis and Torans made of Marigold and Mango Leaves. As per Aai (my source of induction into Marathi culture), Dasara is considered as one of the 3 ½ auspicious days (Shubha Muhurta).  It is proven over years and years that any new venture started on this day are bound to be successful.  Hence in most parts of India Dasara is selected for starting a new businesses, construction activities (house, building, hospital), taking possession of new house, buying new vehicle, buying gold, booking the first order for the business etc. We, as a family also celebrate similarly. We worship knives, utensils, vehicles in honour of the Shubha Muhurta. The interesting feature to this celebration is offering of “Aapti Leaves” (Sona) to each other in the family. After the Pooja, the festivity is followed by special food for the occasion like, Narkel Nadu, Varan-Bhaat, Kaapa, Basundi etc.

I feel blessed to have witnessed the very same festivity in two different cultures. Here’s to the spirit of truly multicultural celebrations and with a hope to witness such many more.

Photo Credit: Google Images

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