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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

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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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