Yeh Tulsi Mere Aangan Ki

Posted August 19th, 2005 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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IMG_5507Technically its not my aangan, its just the deck of my townhouse and its not exactly tulsi either … its Italian basil…but hey this is our first attempt at gardening. Now that we had our own house with a big deck and some land around it, we deciced to try our hands at gardening. Like all Indian families, the first thing we planted was the “kadipatta”. It’s a tough plant to grow, for it requires tender care and grown agonizingly slowly which does not exactly maintain the interest in gardening for an amateur gardener. However for people used to 2 rupye ka kadipatta, to buy a bunch at 3$ seems like a wasteful extravaganza. So we planted the kadipatta , watered it regularly , fed it fish emulsion and waited for it to grow.

In the meantime, we planted Italian basil, tomatoes,IMG_5503 cucumber, mint and green chillies. The mint grew like a wildfire, the Italian basil in spurts, the tomato was a late bloomer but now we officially have 7 baby tomatoes on it. The cucumber died while getting repotted and the chillies threatened to grow but don’t seem very eager to do so.

IMG_5506But enthusiastic beginners that we are, we water them regularly, feed it the appropriate plant foods, examine every leaf every day and even remark on the growth to each other. “Look, the kadipatta has a new leaf”

Missing Mumbai

Posted August 15th, 2005 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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Rainy days and occasional floods are common for people in Bombay . In fact most people look forward to them, despite the potholes, late trains and the occasional flooding . When I heard about the rains in Mumbai, last week I was not very concerned. Mumbaites are not new to floods, there is always one every year, when drainage systems, the government and the rains combine together to force people to stay in offices for the night, or walk a few miles in muddy water.

But then slowly as reports trickled in I realized that this was no ordinary water logging. This was so much more. And that’s when I really missed Mumbai. I miss Bombay on most days. I miss Mumbai more when it rains. But I miss Bombay the most when Bombay is faced with some sort of disaster. It seems odd to miss being in a midst of a natural disaster and miss the fact that you could not experience it. But that’s what I feel ( so did Vidya, when I talked to her). I know that people have suffered like never before, I know many who have walked for an entire day to reach home. I know people who have lost a lot of personal belongings, I know people were worried about friends and family. I know people had one hell of a terrible experience. I know its stupid to wish that I was in the midst of this.

But call me crazy, I missed being surrounded by dirty smelly waist deep water. I missed being part of the group of people walking home in waist deep water, holding hands with those around you, so that if one of you steps in a pothole the others can pull him/her back, I missed the stink of dirty water, the sight of how water swirled with filth and scum at certain spots. I missed being part of the crowded trains being surrounded by the musty damp smell of other half-soaked passengers.

And now as Bombay limps back to life and heart warming stories of Mumbaikar spirit surfaces, I sit here and miss the fact that I am not in Mumbai and I am not part of this part part of my home.

How to Get Rid of Your Inlaws

Posted August 1st, 2005 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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First things first: Hindi films do not portray the truth. . If you were a Hindi film heroine who cautioned her diabetic father-in-law from having nuts and chocolates, you would be praised for taking care of in-laws. “Kitni sayani bahu mili hai”, they would beam, “sasurji ka kitni seva karti hai”. Those are films. In real life, you become a clutch-fisted daughter-in law who can’t spare a few dollars to buy a packet of nuts. In a Hindi film a daughter –in law who cooks and prepares delicacies is lauded as the ideal bahu and ghar ki lakshmi. In real life, you become a show-off and a know-it all.

Inspite of the food that is served to me everyday without entering the kitchen…sometimes you long for the time that there were no in-laws in the house…But….But then I have found a way to get rid of inlaws so all frustrated daughter in laws please pay attention…the secret is about to be revealed!!!

Last weekend we visited New York city . MIL looks shocked at the site of smoking females. “Do females smoke as much as males here”, she asks me. I am not sure how to respond to the question. Yes, I reply. She shakes her head but to my relief doesn’t ask me any more questions. She has already commented on the clothes (or lack of it) that the American women wear. “Not decent at all”, she says. “They look very ugly.” I try to explain that according to American ethics skin display is not bad. And just because they display skin doesn’t make them any less moral. But no chance….She is already shaking her head again.

We roam around NYC trying to “see” all the must see sights. Unfortunately, there is a parade down one of the main streets. There is music dance, people waving flags and lots of traffic commotions. We stop a bit by the roadside and watch the people walk ..some on elaborately decorated floats, some on stilts and some on foot holding banners. The first few banners contain innocuous signs such as “ Tunisia for equal housing” or “ Argentina for equality”. International parade for equality…nods my Father in law with a know-it –all look. We hope to get them out of there before they notice that all the floats have rainbows as the leitmotif. We did not realize that it was the Gay Pride week and this was the gay parade !!

Lets go lets go…Seejo starts hurrying us. We are trying to get to St. Patrick’s cathedral…supposedly the largest cathedral in USA . To Seejo’s dismay the parade passes right down the street. We had to wait by the sidelines watching the parade and waiting for the cops to allow us to cross the street. By this time, the international contingent is over and the nationals have taken over. Very colorful nationals. In all sorts of dresses and non-dresses. Men wearing the shortest of shorts,Tall women wearing shimmering two piece bikini like costumes ,with high heels and weird head gears with feathers and flowers, some others wearing peasant costumes.

“These women” comment my MIL. The country should stop these kind of women parading wearing almost nothing and thrusting their booties. I had to change her opinion about American women. So I casually mention that these are not women you see, they are actually men. She looks at me open mouthed. Men??? Why are they dressed this way then…Whats wrong with them… I look at Seejo for help. Seejo pretends not to notice me. I try to explain that some people like to dress as women. She cannot understand it. America !!!! she says.

The church is closed. Presumably due to the parade. We try to explain that its closed to visitors on all Sundays but they repeat….its due to the parade you see…We nod our heads not before noticing the next floats were from devout religious gays, advocating gay priests and gay gospel music.

We escape into a side street and spot an Indian restaurant. Any thing to get away from the new York heat we say. And the parade echoes everyone mentally. We eat a delicious buffet. Inlaws are finally getting something good to eat. We orders a special order of chillies for the table. Ah! They say….American food, uncooked meat and pieces of bread…no spice no taste …Poor americans.

We are going to wash our hands after the meal. Several parade-ers are taking the opportunity of having a drink at the bar. My MIL crosses past them fast. I turn to look at a tall man in a Spanish costume arranging her lipstick near the entrance. “Pretty dress” I tell her. “Thanks she responds in a gruff voice. MIL is convinced that it is a man now. I move towards the rest-room . It is filled with men adjusting their makeups pulling up their bustiers and examining their panty hose.

MIL refuses to enter the rest-room. We go back and sit at the table waiting for the contingent to pass. She wants to go and wash her hands. Before that she wants to make sure I am not scared. “Are you scared of them?. No I reply. Seejo is laughing….why should she be scared….But MIL doesn’t bother. The next time she gets up to wash her hands she makes sure that there si nobody on the way and then she takes FIL with her….

Just for safety!!!

So the moral of the story….want to get rid of your inlaws….Take them to NYC and make sure they can see a gay parade!!!!