I write this today, not knowing the place you shall grow up in. I am not as confused as before and indeed have a reason to stay here, but then life has taught me to “never say never”. Saying that, I am sure that no matter where you are, reading this letter would make sense for the society around would then too fit in just aptly.
There’s another thing I am sure of, that where we live there shall be a sea nearby and it would definitely be a frequented spot. The sea personifies me, and thus it is but natural that I give you an early introduction. Armed with little buckets and scoops we shall build castles, watch them being washed away and then build them again. The salty air will sting the eyes, the sea gulls might scare you even, the shells will be our first treasures and we shall there learn ‘not giving up’. I shall also introduce to you then a concept that seems very simple but trust me will play a big role in your life. I shall introduce you to “buckets” and how, all through your life people will try to fit you into one bucket or the other.
I hope you inherit my gift of gab, but I certainly do not hope you inherit my reclusive nature. For then it would be very difficult for people to bucket you, you see. For the world I am an extrovert, because talking comes naturally to me. Also, because they do not know that Ambiverts like me exist. For them the buckets are labeled as only Extroverts and Introverts.
Similarly, you can either a feminist or not be one – the balanced approach where you refuse to give into male bashing or “I don’t need a man in my life” theory – just cannot be true. I cannot be traditional, the one who knows how to dish up a traditional recipe or drape a saree and yet know her salsa and gulp down evil mojitos in a jiffy. Remember what I told you about “tradition” earlier? I cannot have raag Malhaar on my Ipod and then go and zumba to Gangnam style. I simply cannot have a mush side when I am all sarcastic when I deal with my loved ones. I cannot have sambar as my comfort food when I swear by Bengali food as a daily affair. Remember what I told you about “comfort” once?
I simply cannot believe in dating and yet not have faith in marriages – for here both the concepts are confusingly intertwined. I cannot be seen dreaming of being a stay at home mom when I am supremely ambitious and competitive.
The ‘cannot(s)’ however my dearest come from those around me, who themselves are unable to live a balanced life and thus they create buckets. Sadly today all types are bucketed, the middle path that Buddha taught us, is only good for discussion at a posh meet-up.
Your teenage will worry you when you don’t fit into buckets. I wouldn’t save you then, for I want you to learn through your own finger burns about how shallow this entire thing is. You will be lost in your 20s and turn to ask if there’s anything wrong with you (like people say – as you do not fit into any buckets as defined by the society). I shall then open a Wiki page that reads “harmful side effects of smoking”, fix up an appointment with a gynae to counsel you about smoking and then ask you if you want to share a smoke with me and know how “weird” people tagged me? (Or probably still do, as you read this letter)
You shall survive, for you are my daughter and do just fine. However, in the process I want you to create two little buckets of your own. One filled with those names that have always striven to ‘bucket’ you and the ones that don’t. The latter will be much lighter than the one Jill went up the hill with, but trust me the latter will help you lead the most wonderful life.
They will be those who should be on your speed dial, with whom there’s no gender divide, you shall tuck you in when you are drunk, be the Whatsapp group that helps you go through a bad day and who shall welcome your dumb moments with the same grace as your achievements. They shall be the one for whom you are just ok for whatever you are!
However, remember my little one that there’s more to them than that. Whenever this bucket tells you something which hurts you or is not very sweet, do not react thinking they have changed sides! Take a step back and think, for their point outs will always be true (well most of the time!) and will help you be a better and humble person.
They shall be your shield and your mirror – appreciate them for that!
I have been lucky to have found my bucket be filled with such a few names and thus, when people who have always termed me as ‘weird’ wonder why they don’t bother me and how I am so at peace with myself I thank those names and send a prayer.
Tell them you love them, hold them close, appreciate them and always be there for them, for this is a bucket that shall never let you tumble and fall. As for the rest, note them down in your little black diary, for someday they shall help you decide the kind of person you should not be!
Now, let’s build some castles shall we?
Buckets full of love and cuddles,
Yes, I know I had this conversation with you last night in my head, like the numerous other ones, but I have this urge to pen this down. I don’t know how much of an example of a traditional mom I will turn out to be, but I just want you to know that we pull along just fine without having to have an exact fit into defined roles. All I want to tell you today, is that there are choices to be made in life and there are traditions to follow – they both should be as per your comfort and should always be something you pick for yourself and not to gain acceptance by the world around you!
Remember the time I explained to your about “comfort”? Well today let us take on “tradition”
“Tradition” they define as a custom or ritual handed down from one generation to the other, what started in the past and continues till the present. “Tradition” as I have learnt, is knowing all that the society is made up of, and then choosing what you want to follow depending on the beliefs that make you up. I have never been the traditional daughter the society would have loved to cite as an example, yet I am just as human as the one who fits the shoe. Bummy, I have come to realize that it is much better to not wear the heels that cause you blisters, than to wear and feel that this shoe wasn’t cobbled for you, yet try to keep up the gait, because the world might think low of you. Strangely Bummy, the times we live in (and shall continue too) we try to bucket people into two categories who are either traditional or not. For the rest like me, sweety there’s a struggle – not for us, but for the world to categorize us and their inability to arrive to a conclusion.
So while wearing a skirt and jacket walking into the meeting room is seeing as “progressive women power”, then sharing a smoke with the colleagues is taken as “modernity” the just opposite happen when you walk in wearing a saree. You are of course expected to be NOT at ease, I mean come one, you are either a western-culture-influenced short skirt wearing girl, who wears saree only during special occasions or you are the saree clad one, who never prefer to show off her legs! Balance and tradition do not go hand in hand – or so we have been made to believe in recent times.
Tradition differs from class to class, yet another tough aspect of life that you have to gulp. A woman construction worker smoking a beedi or walking into the country liquor store for a nip bottle will not draw as much attention as you would, saree clad with your Davidoff in hand. Strangely, if there are gender defined shoes which the society tags for the argument pertaining to “tradition” it should be equal across all classes right? How I wish, that Utopia was true darling! Here, it is almost as if we have taken for granted that those with little “means” are corrupted for tradition and the “good girls” are only from families that have permanent house walls!
Tradition they say demands a lot, I have been however raised to believe that tradition has a lot to offer. All it demands in return, is your appreciating the customs that makes it up and then choosing the ones that you feel are attuned to your mindset (for the rest that don’t suit you, it demands a little respect. What might be your choice, may not be others but that doesn’t mean we do not respect them! Right?)
Clothes don’t define what your roots are, your actions do. Your piousness in society standards don’t define your traditional morals, your respect to the world around you does. In order to uphold traditions you need not wear a saree, be a teetotaler or remain a virgin till you marry – for you must always remember that the first man/ woman to set these standards also had a choice – the choice to adhere to these or not. If they made their own choice, why can’t you? I adorn a saree, because nobody ever forced me to wear it, I was given the option of loving it or not. Your Apa*, never encouraged traditional clothing for children, for the simple reason that his little girls couldn’t run in flowy dresses. Thus, it is true that your mother never owned a single piece of salwaar kameez, till she entered college and wanted to wear one. I was never asked to pray, for faith has always been a personal affair in the family. ‘S Mashi**’ comes from a different faith and yet she is the daughter of the house. ‘A mesho***’ comes from a different faith and nationality, yet we all gather and wish them on Durga Pujo, for that is the tradition which the old lady set for the house. Tradition baby, is like your taste of “salt” nobody can ever define that for you. However, you need to try different cuisines to know your taste. Thus, tomorrow when I introduce you to art, music and culture lessons, do not think it is for the heck of making you a traditional girl, but mainly I want you to discover what you really want, and what will pay your bills and what will be your passion!
I don’t know how to answer your question (in case you ever ask me to) if I am traditional or not? How can I answer when I don’t know it myself. I learnt the rituals of Durga Puja not because I am traditional, but mainly because I found them fascinating – the stories, the smell, the chaos and yes the fun in doing things together. I learnt cooking not because I was told I need to learn it to feed my man, as the tradition goes. Instead, I was told that everyone should learn to cook to be independent – Ama**** hates it if she hears that one chooses to survive on “Maggi” because who wants to cook a lavish mean for one self? I learnt to drape a saree, not because it is the most traditional piece of clothing around me, mainly because I love the elegance it provides me and the self-confidence it oozes out! I do not smoke in front of my parents, not because of traditional demands (heck, then I would not have even told them!), but mainly out of the respect for somewhere I know they don’t like it.
There’s a difference in me not allowing you to do things till a certain age and then after an age despite my not agreeing to your view-point, letting you make choices. I want to guard you till you are old enough to know that there are choices to be made. The world is a tapestry filled with traditions, I want you to pick and choose them. I don’t want you to abstain from anything for the argument of tradition, for trust me what is tradition in this part of the land, is not in the other part of the world. So traditions too come with their anti-thesis. It is up to you to decide which is the shoe that goes with your personality. Google, will be there to throw up answers, to provide you with all the information, however remember Google cannot make you a person. There are no buckets in which you need to be categorized when it comes to “traditions”, I don’t want to leave behind any legacies mandating you to follow. Yet, I want you to know my history, know the family you come from and then decide for yourself.
In the end, I am sure once you adorn a saree and give a sweet smile there will be an aunty who says “Ki misti ghoroaa meye”***** – for the world loves to categorize you, it is a fascination they live by and it often feels good to oblige them, till of course you know at heart where you belong!
Loads of Love and Strength,
*Apa - what kids in the family call my father
**Mashi - Bengali addressal for mother’s sister
***Mesho - Bengali addressal for maternal aunt’s husband
****Ama - what kids in the family call my mother
***** - To Translate it means “What a sweet and lovely traditional girl”
I have nothing to say as I walk away,
Re-birth they say,
I am not leaving, just walking away a bit only to return to live a life, the seeds of which you’ve sown in my eyes! Don’t cry, for there’s a part of me, that’s you and I carry that along in the glint of my smile.
“We miss when we remember, we remember when we forget, habits just live on through breath – you are the habit called LIFE, Mumbai!!!”
Back again soon. Till then, Bhalo Theko* majha** Mumbai
* – Stay Well (Bengali)
** – My (Marathi)
Just when I thought the ‘story’ was over, the book tumbled out of my hands. An old pressed flower intact – as if the life I sought to deny was still there in it’s wilted form. I picked it up and stared hard, the printed letters hazed in the background. Where was this picked from? What was it’s color (lavender of course!) ? And why today after so long, when I was just about to wrap the story and push in somewhere against the dark corners of the mind (the heart is long closed)?
Why are you confusing me again today by reminding me of the fragrance that no longer lingers in the air? Why are you luring me to preserve you a bit more, when I know that all that shall remain are bits and pieces of a lovely being that once was? Life cannot be infused in again right? No matter, how much I try to smell, all that fills up the nostrils is dry whiffs of dust!
I don’t want to erase you off, I don’t want to crumple you away – I want wilted memories to stay – securely tucked away within the pages of our unfinished story. I wish I could pick up again the last page sometime, where the pressed flower lay, but somewhere I guess the fear is that a wind might even break the reminiscent of what remains.
Some relationships are best defined in novels – guess I should leave ours too there. It’s better to have a memory with a hope, than to live a life of despair!
Stay good, tucked away within the pages of “Love Stories from Mahabharata”!
I think by now you already know all that I want to tell you through this letter, for that is all I have been talking to you in my head since last evening. The last weekend evening of your Ma’s rendezvous with the city that shaped her, was spent in discovering things I would like to tell you when someday we come back to settle here and sit by the sea, to share a cup of coffee. The very picture brings a smile to my face, it’s almost I can imagine your summer dress flowing in the breeze as I sit holding you close sniffing your freshly shampooed hair smelling of strawberry!
We might have had a fight before that. I think we will, for I know I am not going to be a cool mom. But you know what don’t fight back with me. It’s not worth it, I’ll be too obstinate to even pretend to listen to things which are a strict no –no. Instead pick up a call on Oma and trust me you’ll be soothed to know that I was more deviant than you can ever imagine. It’s ok don’t be shocked, we seldom can picture our parents as kids doing stuff they will never approve of now. But the truth is, they are humans too and so when Oma shows you a photograph of the ‘hippie’ stage of my life, kindly do not faint to see bandanas, black nail polish, gothic wear, chunk jewellery and yes not to forget hair in thousand braids!!!!
Disastrous as it may look and sound, it wasn’t. It did not shape me, it did not linger, it was just there to comfort me when I felt mis-fit in doing anything else. We all grow that way, clinging to various ‘comforts’ and there’s nothing wrong in that!
‘Comfort’ that is what I want to explain to you today, lest that evening by the sea never happens. I have learnt not to be too ambitious in life, so I jot these down, my child. Read it at leisure, one at a time for then it wouldn’t be preach!
- Baby, in life it is important to find a place that gives you comfort and yes it should be a distinct one which is no where close to my lap. In fact that space should be just yours devoid of any other human contact. I found mine in a small strip of virgin beach here, I hope you find yours somewhere. For then you shall discover yourself, when the world tags you as lost.
- There’s nothing as comforting as music, go discover your kinds. But remember NEVER share your IPod, just the way you won’t share your bra! Push-ups don’t work for everyone and not all are comfortable with the concept of half-cups! Similarly, Bhimsen Joshi might be too passé for some and Methany might be completely out of the blue. But, in the end, it’s your comfort. And trust me, even if you give into peer pressure at times to tune into what’s cool so that you can fit in, keep a back up playlist handy, for there’s nothing like a loop of favourite songs that never grow old, when you want to just disconnect from the rest of the world.
- Have one phone number on your speed dial list, which can comfort you at any hour of the night! Make sure but, that the person is a good listener or in fact at times ‘just’ a listener. It helps you the next morning and you wake up feeling much lighter, without any guilt. But yes, love NEVER use the person as your ‘punching bag’. Nothing hurts a person more than badly framed words, which are used to take out the vengeance about something he/she wasn’t a part of!
- I’ll always hug you to sleep, till the time you don’t throw me out of your room in want of ‘space’! Yes, I am shameless that way. But Hun, there’ll be hugs that you crave which I will not be able to offer. A strong pair of dad’s arms at times. Well I would offer you Opa’s but I know that would be a compromise I would be forcing you to make. But, it’ll do you good trust me, for it’ll help you find your comfort hug within yourself and then when sleep eludes you and the want of a strong hug creeps in really deep, you’ll slip under covers with someone like Hobbes, wearing your Winnie-the-Pooh socks and snore softly, while the world wonders how can you be so at peace with your own self.
- Living with me would ensure that there’s no cuisine you haven’t tried (unless your medical condition doesn’t permit!) and “I-don’t-like-to-eat” is something you would discover only once you start earning! But yes, I’ll help you discover something very early on – your comfort food and the acceptance that it acts the best too soothe you. Trust me, when you discover it you’ll perfectly understand why when you wake up during a few nights you find me sitting at the balcony with milk and cookies or a bowl of sambar and I assure you that I am ‘just thinking’. We shall ignore the over flowing ashtray that I seek to hide then, ok love?
Anarkali, it’s very important to be comfortable in the skin you are in. Correction, it is the most important thing, for then the rest follows. Once you discover your own self, no other jig saw puzzle can un-settle you baby!
Comfort Hugs and Kisses,
P.S: For more letters to my unfortunate unborn daughter click here :razz:
When I started blogging, I didn’t have any clue about the person who commented on my posts! NO freaking clue! Mainly because I hardly got hits, but we shall ignore that!!!! And then suddenly the world realised that ‘Drama’ was indeed missing from their lives and Lo after Vir Das I was coveted (aah well let’s keep the magnitudes apart shall we?)
And so we blogged, exchanged notes, offliners, mails, flowers, chocolates, stories about families, husbands, boy friends, pregnancies, heart breaks, M-I-L rants, laying-a-parent-to-rest crisis, teething problems, teenage mythophobias, child loss, blogger-turning-author, blogger-turning-snobbish-author, blogger-turning-best-friend and more that this space is not meant for as my blog is UG rated!!! And yes we met too, over coffee, dinner, ice creams, lunch, drinks, giggles over mid night calls and played pranks like we did with the kids we grew up with!!!
All honky dory and makes you go awwwwww right???? WRONG??? I mean, I love my blog friends and the close association, but that is exactly what has made me so post conscious! That I cannot post about the problem one of my friends is having battling a divorce and the other battling the ‘other women’ syndrome. or the rants, bitching, appauling mindsets which so often came naturally are now read and re-read as drafts a zillion times. Losing the mask and exposing your skin makes you so vulnerable that you crave for another mask I guess?(Those who can – hats off to you, but I still squirm at the thought of “what if he/she really discovers that this is about him/her”???)
Is it only me, who feels that the blogging scene has become more pressurized (to churn out readworthy posts and WW(s) ) rather than a rant place, because now THEY know who are YOU?
Don’t tell me it’s only ME!!!!
There’s a silent mental preparation I do whenever I go out dining with new set of people. As I put final touches to my ‘maggi curls’ I stands in front of the mirror and promise to myself that I won’t react when during ordering for food I am exclaimed at for the 1875684th time – “What you are a Bengali and you don’t have fish!!!!”
Well yes, I know you guys make it sound like its worse than being an unchaste Brahmin girl, but so be it! I hate fish.
Period. Oops sorry “Dot” – my new fascination after watching Rajnikanth’s Robot!
Though my gustatory calyculi (yes, I am just showing off that I know the scientific term for taste buds!) repel fish, those various Sunday morning escapades with Baba, tagging along proudly holding the ‘jhola’ to the Fish market has somewhere made my olfactory glands immune to the smell of raw fish. And so when I decided to cover Sassoon Docks for Mumbai Mondays, M thought I would faint, but I knew better!
Built in 1875 on reclaimed land,by Albert Abdullah David Sassoon (1818–1896), son of David Sassoon, a Baghdadi Jew and the leader of the Jewish community in Bombay, belonging to the Sassoon family, the dock the biggest dock in Mumbai and one of the few docks in the city open to the public.
Just off Cuff Parade in South Mumbai, the dock is best visited at dawn. The first local at 4 am took us there and I had one of the most awesome train rides here in Mumbai with only a few fish vendors to give us company. (And albeit stare with their sleepy eyes at a hyper active me doing beyoncing in train – all excited because she was out covering for MM!!!!)
The stench of fish near the port shows you the way through darkness and the alley of boats forms a beautiful trail that encompasses the entire semi circular stretch.
This colourful waterfront is a favorite haunt of local gourmets and restaurateurs who throng here for quality seafood at dawn, when the trawlers unload their catch.
People can buy baskets of shrimp, lobster, bony mackerel and fleshy pomfret at wholesale rates.
There are also cold storage places from where one can buy cleaned and filleted varieties which is earmarked for export.
Fisherfolk bring in their catch from the deep seas and by 5:30 the auctioning and bargaining of the stuff is at full bloom.
The locals say that those fish that survive the dawn break, rarely get sold, for the choicest ones are always picked up in darkness!
If the smell and the stench irks you, the smiling faces of the people and the beautifully weaved baskets and the array of ships overlooking the Marine Mumbai stretch and the Oyster Dock makes you switch off and witness one of the loveliest sunrise any city can ever offer!
Photography is strictly prohibited and the area is more cordoned after the terror attacks of 2008, but the spirit of Mumbai still runs high. So when we requested for a few photographs we were smilingly indulged into what was ‘against the law’ of the land!
Surrounded by the Colaba fishing village, we had the time of our lives identifying surmai, pomfret, prawns and lobsters. And when the sigh of the fishes got a bit too gruesome I turned towards the boat and make shift dry ice counters to keep myself fascinated.
Round it off with a heavy breakfast at the Britannia café or Indigo at Colaba Market and you have one of the best Sundays ever. Only till the time your mother calls you at 11 am to find you mumble to her that you have just hit bed after come back from a fishing village!
“But why on earth will you go to a fishing village at almost midnight???” , she asks!
“Because Ma that is the only time nobody is bothered as to whether I am a fish addict or a photography addict”, I mumble.
“Can’t you visit places like other normal girls of your age, like discos , pubs and parlors??? What did I have when I was about to deliver you I wonder”, she thinks out aloud.
“Definitely Fish Ma! For else my affairs and trails wouldn’t be so fishy right??”, I crack up groggily.
Does anyone know of a good site that can deliver some fish to make my mother talk to me!
Mumbai Mondays is all about seeing Mumbai and its surroundings through my eyes. It’s my take to introduce you to a city and its surroundings which I love, as I see it – alone and often with friends (we call ourselves the Mumbai Mad Caps). It’s a thread that goes live every Monday. I cover places randomly and welcome suggestions too. You can find more posts about Mumbai Mondays here.
Want to write about Mumbai and share your experience – do drop me a line. We are open to Guest Posts too – Come join us and spread the Mumbai Madness around!
I have discovered a lot a last few months. About myself, the world around me and then again back to knowing about myself. One of the most important discoveries in this process was to realise that I don’t have what is commonly referred as “Tree Nut Allergy”. What’s so great you ask? Do you know approximately 34% of the world population suffers from allergic reactions to nuts, and half of them die because of that! And you say it’s not a relief to know that I can lick clean the peanut butter spoon each time I land at home, just ignoring my ‘love handles’ (God knows why are they called that, for they can’t EVER handle love for nuts anything! :roll:) as they groan! Stupid people!
Well it’s a very important fact and I suggest that you check out your sustainability too. There’s a quick online method too (no needles ) for checking – just click here!
Do you know you are at a risk of being labelled each day, each hour by someone or the other. Yes apart from monsters, there are other creatures watching you too – especially your sanity. Have you ever wondered whether you are a Mail nut (crazy about postal), hale nut (ahem ‘healthy’ ), jail nut (addicted to living in jails!!!!), pale nut (anaemic), sale nut (the one who cannot resist a bargain), tri psycho (multifaceted nuts) or JUST PLAIN NUTS (psych illogical – commonly found here)?
Never? NEVER? Are you serious??? Paah – to prove you need to log in to www.sanityscore.com - which offers a simple online quiz designed to assess aspects of your mental health, including your risk for depression, anxiety and other emotional disorders. Wait – it might not open on your mere mortal browser – so me the noble soul shall help you (yes what would humanity do without me???). Just click here to get instantaneous results (If you can survive the entire archive at one go – NEXT TIME SOMEONE CALLS YOU NUTS – BREAK SOME OF THEIRS!)
Do you know Nuts have always baffled people – particularly the aphrodisiac ones! Ahem so each nut is special and hence kindly handle with care.
Roald Dahl once wrote:
I had a little nut-tree,
Nothing would it bear.
I searched in all its branches,
But not a nut was there.
“Oh, little tree,” I begged,
“Give me just a few.”
The little tree looked down at me
And whispered, “Nuts to you.”
Nuts – we get it easily – and so take for granted. Just the way you guys take my intelligence and profound talk to be for granted.
But have you ever wondered that the Nut you ignore could be on the brink of being pre-historic. The legend goes that before the origin of the nut was discovered, it was widely believed that these nuts were a gift of the sea, sent from a mythical tree goddess at the bottom of the ocean. The nuts were highly sought after as decorations by the nobility in Europe. Once in their possession, they would then clean, carve and decorate them with precious jewels. When they occasionally washed up on India’s shores they were seen as the female counterpart to the Shankara stones, found on Hindu altars. Indian priests have used them as ritualistic water vessels and you can still see Hindu holy men using them today, as begging bowls. In tantra the shell is celebrated as a symbol of creation and fruitfulness. No-one really knew where they came from until the year of 1768 when the true source of the nut was discovered. (Do you know you can actually repeat this on your valentine date and appear profound!!! No! No need to thank me or kiss my feet I am genetically generous! )
So the wise say, that you should never ignore a Nut. In fact whenever you should find one, hold them close to your heart (lips and hip too! ;)) and make them feel special each day. And on their b’day maybe bake them a special Fruit and Nut cake and sing ‘Happy B’day Nuttie’!!!
Happy B’day my favourite Nut – I so wanted to stay there and bake an extra special cake for you. But guess this time you’ll have to forgive me and do with this post instead!
You are indeed our favourite Nut!
P.S: Before all of you rush here to wish the Nut a happy B’day – kindly do not forget to check What Kind of a Nut are you???