Friday, 28 June 2013

Man, Woman and Religion - Part II

When it comes to fasting, nobody can beat Eastern UPites and Biharis. As it is dates on a Hindu calender look and sound like something sacred, as if there is some event/fast/festival everyday. Sample this: Parva (i.e 1st ), Dooj (2nd), Teej (3rd), Chauth (4th) etc.  For our folks, there are dozens of fasts each year, nearly all of them meant for husband and/or sons. It is also quite interesting that almost all of them require women to fast for 24 hours straight, some even longer without even drinking water.

When Karvachauth is in the air and someone expresses her worries about how she is going to cope up with fasting whole day, I laugh heartily (and secretly). For she does not know she is blessed to not have to cope up with Haritalika Teej,  a 24 hour-without water fast in a hot and humid August-September, as opposed to Karvachauth which falls close to Diwali, at the doorstep of winter, and you get to eat in the evening. I have grown up watching my mom do Teej every year with ease. (I admit that I liked it, so much that I secretly wished to get married soon and do it. And I do it!)

Fasts are actually meant to cleanse one's system physically as well as spiritually. Only if you do them properly. But some women take them so seriously that they would ignore health issues, doctor's advise or worse, their own babies. I have heard my mom often telling me how she used to put wet cloth over the bellies of her many 'Bhabhis' who would be either carrying or would have small babies who needed to be breastfed. Imagine not eating or drinking anything in that condition for 36 straight hours.

Though my mom-in-law is strict stickler to 'husband-and-son' fasting, I have heard her complaining about how all our fasts are without water while the more glamorous Punjabis and some others have fasts where they eat more than they would on a normal diet.

And I have never come across a man asking a woman to fast for him. It is the doing of women themselves. How did it all begin? I would love to know.


Friday, 21 June 2013

Babies are cute! So are dogs!!

Watching 'Turner and Hooch' on TV, it was a moment of truth when Scott Turner yelled at Hooch, the dog: "You've been doing this (barking) for two and a half hours. My God! Stop it. Stop it now. You have burgers. Eat those buns. Drink that water if you are thirsty. What am I supposed to do? Make you a Maragarita? Huh? You tell me. Tell me..."

I can't stop smiling. I immediately relate to the frustration. That is what Coco does some nights or even days when he won't eat or sleep or play and would want my constant attention. I would not have slept more than three hours in last 24 hours, I am hungry, want a cup of tea, thirsty, and he won't let me even get up to have a glass of water. It is then that I would start losing patience and start whining: "My God! You've been doing this for hours. What do you want? Tell me. I have given you milk. There are toys. Or sleep if you feel sleepy. You tell me. Tell me!"

I have read somewhere that high BP patients should keep either a dog or a baby at home. If the dog is like Hooch, or the baby is like Coco in one of the above described moods, God help the patient! 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Bai re Bai

Missing good old days, lazy morning 'Chai'

What does a woman need for a peaceful life? Well, among many other things, a good house-help. The one that comes to my home has all the traits of a good help:

a. Is punctual
b. Works neatly

That is all I could think of now. But she does something that annoys me greatly and disrupts my peaceful (read lazy) lifestyle. Every small item that she washes : bowls, spoons, grater, peeler, knife etc- she keeps at a different place daily. You keep looking for a few minutes frantically, as the oil burns in the pan, then take a deep breath, sim the stove and use you imagination. Daily it is a treasure hunt of sorts for me and I work my brain harder than I have ever done for a five-star Sudoku.

Today it is the teeny tiny peeler that was hanging in place of the cooker lid, barely visible, and the original occupant of that place was kept hidden below all the other big utensils. I guess she needs to be on Masterchef, giving the contestants a tough time searching for their cooking tools.

God bless you bai ji, for I am just going to be here for 10 more days.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Man, Woman and Religion: Part I

Time: Early morning
Day: Sunday
Mood: Good

My father in law phones me. The gist of the call was general hi and hello. It also contained the information that my ma-in-law and her co-sister (my husband's chachi) had fasted the previous day as it was Vat Savitri Puja.

My mood suddenly did a U-Turn. Yesterday I had cooked a gorgeous mutton curry and had relished two meals out of it! Could they not tell me earlier? What the.... wait!!!

Why am I feeling guilty? What has fasting or non-veg got to do with my family's well being?

Does this 'fast for a long life of your husband and son' thing happen anywhere else in the world? I do not think so. It is a sole privilege of being born a woman in India that you become the absolute protector of the lives of the men around you. Nowhere else (likely) on earth is a man so weak that he requires his mother, sister, wife, daughter, practically all the females in his family to fast in order to live.

It all looks good and sweet if one looks at it from an angle where it is done out of love (then why don't we do it for our daughters/wives/moms?) and for the sake of tradition & culture (culture has better elements too!)

Fast religion chhath pooja
So much for a son: Chhath Pooja, Bihar's major festival which requires 2-3 days of fasting and many strict rituals. Women (sometimes men too) stand in cold water for hours carrying heavy platters of fruits and other offerings to Sun and Chhath mata.   

Best part is men really don't care about fasts. Heck, they are not even aware most of the times about the upcoming fasts and their 'importance'.

A research says that men do not like it when women at home fast. It not only demands their time and effort, it causes much emotional stress also. Test population: 3, My husband, his father and his grandfather. It is women who take up fasts and other such rituals and pass them on. It is also women who guide and goad their husband/son to gather materials required for the rituals and get seriously angry if everything is not done according to their wish. The target of their anger: Those poor souls for who the fasts are being observed.

It seems like in the name of being religious, women keep spinning a web around themselves so that they are occupied in all these 'vrats' and 'pooja-paath' and never really have to think beyond. How convenient!


Saturday, 15 June 2013

The kadhi that came back!

It is quite a sight to find Coco sleeping like this every morning, on his tummy,  typically like his papa. Hence proved, sleep posture is genetic!
Ahh... and that is the luscious, delicious Aloo kadhi that I made from a recipe found in a booklet. It was cooked with the purpose of returning a bowl to my neighbor. It was difficult for me to part with such a generous portion of my yummy kadhi. I glanced with a lustful, greedy gaze at the full bowl and sighed deeply, as it was being carried by my hubby to the neighbor next door. 

I assume I have a magnetic gaze and a powerful sigh. As it turns out, the neighbor asked for chapatis too (which I had totally forgotten to throw in!) and hubby dear promised him that night's dinner. Come dinner time and chapatis are ready to leave my kitchen. Neighbor is called and here he comes with the bowl of kadhi intact!!

After dinner, being a polite man, he never asked to take his leftover kadhi back. So here we are, my kadhi and I. I am looking at it, and it is looking back at me with it's charming golden silence. Yumm!

At this point, I remembered Paulo Coelho and his Alchemist. I had desired this kadhi so much that it had to come back for me :)

(Days later, the bowl was sent back with cheeseballs.) 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

An evolving crafter!

baby sleeping with teddy bear
A peacefully sleeping baby, a few hours ahead with nothing to do. Catch some sleep? Read a book? watch a movie?? Well.... mulling..

Often, I feel an itchy urge in my hands to create something beautiful. With the baby around, though I hardly get any free time, I try to sneak a few crafty strokes here and there, even if that means sacrificing sleep by this lazy lazy woman in those sleepy summer afternoons.

Ready for my latest enterprise? Here goes:

fabric painting, painted bed sheet
Its a pleasure seeing the mental picture of those blossoms shaping up.

fabric painting bed sheet
More angles, loving them!

hand painted cherry blossom bed sheet
Mmm.. closer..

hand painted bed sheet, cherry blossom painting
Wow, the sheet has finally found its way on my Ma-in-law's divan, blossoming prettily!