Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nostalgia - Deepavali that used to be ....

Deepavali or Diwali has always been a very special festival for me. For one, it spans for 3 days which meant No school / college for 3 days. (and if it were thursday through saturday ... even better) It also falls soon after Dasara ... so we are still in the festive spirit.

The festival of lights brings back a lot of memories .... the earliest memory runs when I was about 7-8 yrs old. We had this custom in our family (maternal side) where the entire family (3 uncles and 2 aunts, their spouses and kids and of course our grand parents) would gather in one house to celebrate the festival. So if it was Ugadi in uncle S place, it would Ganesha festival at my grand parents' house, Sankrathi is aunt Sh's place. So it was Diwali in our house that year. We were living in officer's quarters. It was a small 2 bedroom house with a huge yard. The yard itself could house 4-5 more houses. We had lovely Bougainvillea tree just beside the front gate with lovely flowers year round. The front yard had mostly several rows of flowers while in the backyard we had cotton, pomogranate, gooseberries, papaya, lemon, seetaphal. The sides had some more flowering plants and also guava trees. Now when I struggle to grow plants in a small patio, I wonder how my parents managed all these plants / trees. I don't ever remember them complaining about taking care of so many plants. My dad loved getting his hands dirty in the mud and making "Pathi" or small mud bridges to hold the water. My paternal grandma also loved taking care of plants. She specially loved the "Sampige" and "Tulsi" plants. Anyways ... I digress.

Coming back to Diwali.... that particular year, all my cousins (around 7) of them from age 10 to 1 arrived on the "Neeru Tumbo Habba" or the night before "Naraka Chaturdashi". This day is particularly important for us, since on this day, the entire house is cleaned (especially the boiler or "Hande" used for bathing) All kids were made to sit on the "MaNe" (small wodden seating) and my grandma massaged us with warm castor oil after doing the mandatory "Ahalya Draupadi Seeta". (this is process where grandma applied dots of castor oil on hand and massaged it before proceeding to the head and other body parts) After running around oiled for atleast 30 mins, our moms would start bathing us. There used to be some competition among the kids as to who gets to take bath first. Obviously the younger ones got bathed first and the older ones later. Once all the kids were bathed, the elders also took oil bath. It took about 4-5 hrs for the entire family to just get that elaborate bathing. Now began the fun part of us the kids ... the crackers :))

The thing about celebrating with the entire family also ensured that, we had large packets of crackers. Each family brought some crackers. We would mix all of them. And then, we divided the crackers for all the nights of Diwali and saved some for the "Utvana Dwadashi" or "Tulsi habba" which would fall some 15 days later.

Coming back to the first night of Diwali, we would place all the crackers in a huge tray and start burning them one after the other. The entire family witnessed this ... with one or two of the men taking charge of the kids. I am sure there would have been some small fights among the kids while dividing the crackers ... but nothing comes to my mind right now. So I can safely say the elders did a great job of ensuring all of the kids remained happy and satisfied. It was just not the kids alone, the ladies and men alike took part in burning the crackers. The night invariably ended with the burning of 1000 or 10000 "Sara Pataki".
This was then followed by an elaborate dinner. Still wonder, how the ladies managed to bathe the kids, take part in the cracker event and yet manage n elaborate hot dinner. After dinner, we would all go for a walk, catching glimpses to flower pots or chakras being lit in the neighborhood. We would mentally make note of all the papers lying in the yard of all the houses and feel happy if the "Kasa" or the papers from the crackers in our house was the most. In our minds, more the kasa, more crackers we had burnt. Once back home, daddy would spread the beds, mats etc and arrange for our night's siesta. We lived in a small 2 bedroom house back then ... still about 20 of us managed to sleep without any fuss. Of course we just lied on our beds ... we talked endlessly before falling sleep sometime in the middle of the night.

The next morning of Naraka Chaturdashi began with daddy and few others cleaning up the yard. After a scrumptious breakfast, we again would begin to burn the crackers allocated for that day. Afternoon would be spent either going for a movie or just playing some board games. The elders chatted endlessly or just rested. Come evening ... and we kids hopped around the yard with delight burning some more crackers.

The next morning, we burnt less crackers than usual. Evening saw the ladies perform "Lakshmi Pooja". They also lit the house with diyas. We kids ensured that our "Golka" or piggybank was kept for the pooja. Afterall, Goddess Lakshmi had to be kind to us to fill our piggybanks.

The last day of Diwali or "Bali Padyami" saw us spending time recollecting the past 2-3 days spent together. It also saw the aunts and uncles packing their suitcases. Mom decorated the doors with pyramids made of cow dung which our milkman used to bring. This was decorated with "Chand hoova". (I forget now what it was called). In the evening, daddy performed "Balindra Pooja". After the pooja, all the girls in the family performed "Vaara Doori" which required us to spill milk from a conch all over the house and sprinkle flower petals. This act was done to ensure the "Tavaru Mane" or the girl's house remained ever flourishing. We also lit few sparklers indoors near the place where pooja was performed. After this we of course burnt a lot of crackers. Most of my uncles and aunt left to their places on this evening itself ... some left the next day.

The next day was "Sodara Bidige" ... similar tradition as "Raksha bandhan" performed in other parts of India. My uncles gifted my mom and mom gifted them back as well. Daddy was usually not there for this festival, since he would go to his sister's place for the same :)

Other memories of Deepavali in our family:
* We always bought new clothes. The new clothes were worn either on Naraka Chaturdhasi or Bali Paadyami. If we got lucky we bought 2 sets of clothes.
* Most of the families bought the crackers through "Cheeti system". This system meant paying money in installments and getting the crackers at the end of it along with a nice "Silver" or "Gold" item as a gift)
* One of the nights of Diwali included "Kola Katte" on the menu. Usually it would be the night of "Neeru Tumbo Habba".

This year, we did celebrate Deepavali in the Cantaloupe house hold. We lit candles around the house. (we also carved few pumpkins, with Halloween just 2 days away) I performed the Lakshmi pooja while Cantloupe ensured her piggybank was kept for the pooja. We burnt few sparklers and flower pots. (much to Cantaloupe's protests ... she hated it) But, the charm was not the same. I missed the elaborate food, missed the endless gossip sessions, missed the long walks, missed variety of crackers .... above all I missed every single member of my family. Now everyone is spread all over the globe and I am not sure we all will ever be able to celebrate the festival together again.

On a brighter note ... My sister had a baby boy this Deepavali ... so it feels wonderful to become a "Doddamma". This sister of mine lives just few miles from our house ... hopefully my daughter and this little fella will make their own special memories of Deepavali in the years to come !!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Questions from Cantaloupe

The one thing Cantaloupe always keeps asking about these days is when someone will go to Maami (meaning death). This habit has perhaps increased since the death of my grandpa.
So every now and then, she comes to me and says.
I can drive when I am 16, right amma? Junior will be 12 ... But will you be around when I am sixteen or you will be with Maami?
I will start working when I am 25 right amma. Junior will be 21. I want to buy you the best Merc. But will you be around then?

You get the picture ... she not only asks me, but also her dad and her grandma!!


Cantaloupe (C): Junior is my baby ..
Me: (jokingly): No, she is my baby just like you. Junior is YOUR sister, just like chikki is mine.
C: When I am 25, I will have MY baby ... right?
Me: mmm ... yeah .. may be
C: But who is my baby's daddy ?
Me: (after hopelessly searching for an answer): You will know when it is time. Maami will help you find that person.

Am I clever or what???


Last evening conversation with Cantaloupe

C: Amma, lets play a new game today
Me: What do you want to play?
C: I don't know ... you tell me
Me: Why don't you comb my hair?
C: Hmm ... lets play hair cut game
Me: Ok

She rushes to the bathroom to grab some accessories ... combs and hair clips
(Cantaloupe and I recently had been to the salon for a short hair cut)

Cantaloupe arranges her things and wets her hand and rubs it on my head.
Me: No more water dear.
C (serious tone): Which cut?
Me: Layered cut please
C: No bang?
Me: uh????? (where did she learn the word Bang from????)
C: No bang?
Me: No

She goes ahead with her business.
Meanwhile I am still thinking, does she even know what bang mean ? I am woken from my reverie by a rough rub on my head ... and I scream.
C: Oh ! Sorry ... you said No bang.
Me: Hey ... where did you learn this word Bang from ??
C: Oh!! At the salon ... you said No bang there .... right??
Me: Yes I did ... what does bang mean?
C: mmmm It means being rough ... "Banging" ... right??

What do I say ... it does mean that ... doesn't it???

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Creative Thinking

This morning I was bathing Cantaloupe. Here is how our conversation went:

She: Amma, I dreamt about ajja.
Me: Really ?? What was he doing?
She: We were in our old apartment. He had bought Wipes to give it to Junior. He pleaded on using the wipes he had bought. I agreed. After cleaning Junior, ajja played with us.
Me: (Of all things you dream about Wipes ???): So did you guys have fun playing? (Ignoring the wipes part)
She: Of course we did... He is my BEST ajja
Me: Where was I?
She: You were home ... you were in the living room. Ajja's are always fun ... right amma?
Me: Yes dear
She: (suddenly remembering that my ajja had recently passed away): Do you miss your ajja? I really miss muttajja.
Me: (well she has spoken to my grandpa several times and met him only once. Does she truly miss him???): I miss him honey
She: Where is he now?
Me (not knowing how to tackle this question): He is with Maami (God)
She: Why?
Me: Maami wanted to talk to him.... he was old and so maami decided to .. (still searching for words)
She: Can muttajja walk in Maami's place?
Me: Uh??? Its difficult ...
She: We can send him a wheelchair if required ... right amma??
Me: (spellbpund)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Driving is driving me crazy ...

Just noting driving tips for my reference to read almost everyday

1. The fellow driver who cuts ahead of you from the right turn lane he was supposed to make to your left turn lane in the last minute is just to be thanked. He is just checking you car brakes.

2. You must be indebted to the lady ahead of you who drives so slow in city limits that you miss the signal and now have to spend an additional 5 minutes waiting for the signal. She is putting on make up and in turn is reminding you to check yourself ... just so you arrive "Fashionably" late to your meeting.

3. The driver driving at 45 mph on the freeway in the left most lane is just trying to save your fuel. Remember driving at 55 mph in a 65 mph freeway saves fuel (Chevron Tekron tip) The driver is smart in mathematics and wants to save more fuel and is driving at 45 mph

4. The driver honking at you at the junction where you have stopped to allow for pedestrians is just checking his honk. May be you can use this knowledge and honk at the pedestrian and scare him. He dare not cross the road when YOU are driving.

5. At the STOP sign, you just need to pull your feet off the accelerator for a second. Did you seriously think the STOP sign meant a feet on the brakes ?? Hell no ... brakes are to be used for point 1.

I must READ and then RE-READ these tips everyday to make driving a pleasurable time !!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cool dates

Reva pointed out that as of yesterday,

Cantaloupe was 4 years 2 months and 3 weeks
Junior was 4 months 2 weeks and 3 days

How cool is that !!

Thanks for pointing out Reva !

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I did it ... I did it ....

I bathed Junior for the first time !!!
Now before you conclude anything, let me explain the bathing process in our house.

We give a detailed bath to the little ones complete with Warm oil massage, lying the little one on your legs and pouring water on her. This usually requires 2 people involvement: one to pour water and one to put the baby on your legs, massage, apply soap etc. Its called "Yenne Neeru" in Kannada.
I had always done the massaging and water pouring part while my mom put the baby on her legs and soaped her. This arrangement was mostly because I couldn't bend easily after my C-sec for sometime and we couldn't wait till the time I was ready to bathe her. Since amma left, BP had taken to that part. But the bath tub seemed too small for him and he found it really difficult to sit. So I braved to do it yesterday. And surprise .... it came quite naturally to me !!! I didn't find it all that difficult at all !! I had always hesitated putting the baby between my legs ... but it wasn't that bad at all !! And yes, my experience with Cantaloupe helped me !

Friday, October 3, 2008

Changes this fall...

Many changes have happened in the Cantaloupe household for the past month. Just listing a few:
* Moi, me ... started work again. I started work on Sep 15th. Amma was still staying with us when I started going to office. After woeful commutes for the past 8 years, my office is about a mile from home. And that was the primary reason behind taking up work this month. I knew I wanted to get back to work sometime before the end of the year, but when was the question. When this opportunity came up, I didn't look further and started work. Junior is under her grandma's (my mother) care for now.
* My mother moved to my sister's place. She has been staying there for the past 10 days. My sister's baby is due this month and mom is there to help out. She has offered to take care of Junior as long as she is in the US ... but I am not very sure I can leave Junior with her after my sister's baby arrives. I think it will be too much to ask for, but amma seems to think otherwise. My cousin runs a day care very close to our house. Cantaloupe went there, she had fun. I am sure Junior will be just fine there as well. But the said cousin is on a break and will resume her day care services from Jan 09. Till such time we need to make alternate arrangements.
* BP and I have changed our work routines. We both are up before the quake of dawn .. up by 5:30am. He leaves to work by 6:30am. Before he leaves, I am ready with breakfast, lunch, ready for my office. The kids are up by 6:30am. I spend some time with the kids and drop them off at school and sister's place. I am in office around 9:00am. Thankfully school, sister's place and office are all at 10 mins driving distance. BP picks Junior and Cantaloupe by 5:00pm. I am back from office by 5:30pm. We get to spend some quality time in the evening.
* We moved Junior's bed into Cantaloupe's room, bought a baby monitor, reminded Cantaloupe of how much fun she is going to have with Junior (??? I don't think she bought this idea) ... but the arrangement is not going as smooth. Junior needs to be fed atleast twice in the night. I have to go to their room and nurse her there or bring Junior to our room and nurse her. This wakes up Cantaloupe and she is not too happy about it. Besides, Cantaloupe wakes up sometimes in the night and she needs to be comforted. Cantaloupe has never slept alone and if we moved Junior to our room and she is asked to sleep by herself, it is going to affect her badly. She is a very very sensitive child. We are not sure what we should be doing.
* My dearest Grandpa passed away this month ... I was very very upset and so was amma. It has been very stressful ....

Lots of changes happened this month ... and all of them happened around the same time. We are still getting used to it ... and slowly !!!

My circle of life with BP, Cantaloupe and Junior and much more | Desenvolvido por EMPORIUM DIGITAL