Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Shades of Grey

          No, its not a review of the book :P 
          Its something that's been on my mind a lot these days.
          I come from an old school of thoughts. You know the kind who know that fairytales aren't real but wish it were! 
          I grew up in an atmosphere hostile to love and romance. I hardly ever saw that "perfect" couple. I rather saw more of drunk husbands thrashing their wives, of estranged couples living with "the other" partner, of men mentally harassing their wives. Not so pleasant place for a young girl to grow up in. Not when she understands everything. 
          Although we shifted to a better place, the images stayed on. My thoughts were restricted to what my parents chose to limit it to, but my eyes were taking it all in, introspecting and analyzing. 

          I always considered love to happen only once. The next time around it is always a compromise. I believe that the kind of love which does not calculate and assess the partner for benefits, that which unconditionally loves the other person can happen only once. And it does. The consequent ones are well thought of, much deliberated and practical. Its what can be called "mature" love although I don't feel that is any term at all ;)

          I believed that one must wait for "the one". Once in a relation, one must try best to keep it with all faith. The best relations don't come custom made. They are fruits of patience and labor. If it does not work then it wasn't the right one. The girl who keeps giving tries to find the one is called "loose character" as she is the one who has tried and tested many and the society has no respect for such likes. The society turns blind to its own flaws and brands other's mistakes as "characterless". But one must live in a society and more than that one must not make the parents feel ashamed of their progeny. So liberal you might be but its ultimately the society which wins unless you live in a society of liberals. 
          People talk if I talk to guys (who were once my classmates) outside my building gate. It upsets my father who like every father cannot bear to listen anything against the daughter and so we all shut up and behave the way society likes. 

         So far well defined borders. One girl with only one committed relation or better still married with consent of parents- White
         A girl in search of love but a poor judge of men or maybe just not finding the right one and hence lot of relations - Black
         College expands your field of influence. You meet people from various backgrounds. Not only the college but a lot of experiences beyond the safe world makes you aware of that large grey area. 

        On one hand I meet this girl and guy who are in a relationship with their respective partners (yes read that again) but have found that "special something" in each other. They do not want to let go of their stable partners but they know they will never find that connect with their partners. So why not stick with each other? Coz that is not practically feasible! Yes its a strange cocktail of practical and emotional needs. 
       I have met people who are so immensely career centric that they consider everything else as a secondary arrangement. So as per the change in their syllabus, the partner changes :P With a new degree comes a new partner. "Its not serious, its not the age to be serious. We are just 20! WE have a lot of time to meet people and select the one." 
      Do I blame them? Maybe not. They are right as far as their aspirations go. They cannot be with a stable partner and not lose out on the partner if they are to go places right? 

      I know of a girl who has been in a "friends with benefits" relation. It might have repelled me some 5 years back, but not now. I see that special conversations. They stimulate each other intellectually. On an emotional level, they are not ready to commit. But do I miss the glow on her face when she is with him? Isn't it worth something? Maybe its worth the "friends with benefits" tag. If its worth her happiness, who are we to judge it ?

      The crux of the whole so called grey area?  HAPPINESS.  

     Alright on the downside, there are people who take advantage of others. Give them hope of some deeper commitment and get all the pampering only to bade a goodbye when a better opportunity arises. Do I call that black? Maybe these people are giving their try to happiness! 

      I have seen a woman ( my former maid) who lived with a man who was mentally unstable but had only some outbursts. He was perfectly normal otherwise. This man, her husband, would harass her to the extent which I cannot write here. On one Vata savitra day, I saw her carrying a thali to the banyan tree to pray for the long life of her husband. Do I call it white?? Did she ever get any happiness out of it? She died soon after because she was too ill and her husband too unstable to notice or take care of her.

     We as a society would have never accepted if the above said woman had left her husband and found someone better. We would have branded her a "slut" for having ditched her man in times of need and living sinfully with someone else. Its another thing to know of her full story and deny it while reading her that "No I wouldn't have done so. I would have respected her choice". Would you apply the same logic when thinking of someone else whose story you dont know??  


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi.

           Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with great pomp in Mumbai for all of 11 days. Unlike many other places where Ganesh idol is brought into a community or a temple, here many Maharashtrian houses bring the lord to their homes and immerse the idol on 1 1/2 days, 3 days, 5days, 7 days and sometimes on the 11th day. The streets are full of people colored with gulal, dancing to the dhol beats and a ambiance of love for the lord is created all over. 


We do not bring the Ganesh idol home but the festival is celebrated in its own special way in our home. 
On the day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the whole house is cleaned first thing in the morning. I and Mom start with the cooking. 7 different types of vegetable dishes, a sweet dish and the regular food is prepared. The sweet dish is usually kheer. 
Dad brings home 5 different types of fruits, sweets, tender coconut and beetle leaves and nut. 
The food is laid out on plaintain leaf before the small prayer place at home. Water in a small silver tumbler is kept. 
Together we perform aarti reading out the bhajans from the books. I m glad I learnt most of them at school so I lead the whole aarti :) 
                After the aarti is done, we lay out the similar food on another plantain leaf in the memory of our loved ones who passed away and keep it for the crows. 
                The food kept for the Lord is then shared as prasad after which we have a quite lunch laid out on the leaves. 
                 For once the house looks peaceful and graced by the Lord. In this simple but special way, the Lord is remembered and thanked and asked for forgivance. 
                 When I was younger, my parents used to take a leave on one of the 11 days and we would go visiting the Ganpati pandals all day. I would love to see the different idols all over the place and insist to wait and watch the various shows which they had at the pandals. 
                 There used to be different themes for these shows. Some mythological, some on current issues. One particular year it was all about the Kargil wars and I was so much absorbed into it that I would want to watch the show at every pandal. Roaming around in the sun, eating outside and still more roaming would ensure that I feel sick somewhere (yea I was and am that sensitive :P ) and following it would be glasses of Limca to make me feel better. Yet the next year I would be willing to go through the ritual all over.. 
                  Now I no longer get leave to visit the pandals all day and the shows have lost their appeal. I now see the ugly faces behind the whole pandal (collecting or rather forcing money out of the people, using that money for personal gains, the drunken bash after the visarjan) and I see the sadness on the face of my Lord. Somehow I always feel it in the way the eyes are shaped. A place with negative energy will never get a benevolent looking eye on the idol. It will bear this sad or angry look. 
                  I see the way the idols are immersed in the sea and irrespective of all the bio idols available, I know the next day the limbs of the idol will be floating around or worse be dismantled on the shores of the sea. Maybe things were same when I was younger but I m now beginning to see the reality. 
                  After the puja at our home, I visit a few of friends who have the idol at their homes and few select pandals close by. 
                 The Ganesh puja at home is something which I would like to carry forward all my life. IT is in these small prayers that you find the Lord among you or maybe its in this way that you invoke the presence of the omnipotent to your sense :) 
                  Yes you don't need an idol. You just need a communication channel :D 


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