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My Cronies and Me

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Every evening at 6p.m.-7.45p.m. we 10--15 women meet in our Condominium Complex Compound----just to sit together and chat!!!All of us belong to the same Condominium though some live the in 'A','B' or 'C' buildings and our ages range from 42-70 years.Sudhir is at a loss to understand what that diverse an age group of women can talk about daily?
There are so many common topics---Health and Diet being the main ones.We have all lived together for the past 35 years----with the exception of the various daughters-in-law who married and joined us later most of us are the original owners who moved here in 1975---that makes us comfortable with each other--like a family.We have all grown old together and though some of us moved away most retained their old Apartments here and often drop by for a chat.We take our evening walks together and then sit ourselves down on the chairs arranged for us by the Security guys----every one stops by for a "HI' and a "Hello" and we get all the Condominium News---daily!!!
Often we get some Snacks---these days mainly healthy ones---and enjoy these together much to the chagrin of those who watch us from their windows-----they feel that we're too tight knit as a group to accept new members----in fact we'd like to welcome more women into our group---the more the merrier!!!.
We're an unlikely lot---Kantaben,Kishoriben,Radhaben and Jyoti are total Vegetarians who eat only eggless Cakes while Dolly,Banidi,Fatima,Mitra,Savitri and I are unabashed Non-Vegetarians----we talk about our recipes,various varieties of Snacks or just Food!!!.Sonia and Bhabhiji (her mother-in-law) eat eggs only in cakes-----otherwise they are Vegetarian.We are joined sometimes by Pushpa,Vahini,Shashi Tai and Vahini's daughter-in-law Trupti.The topics of discussion range from Religion,Family,Husbands(their idiosyncrasies),Children and the bygone days that were!!!
The most affected by our presence are the poor children----we've known most of their fathers since their childhood---this makes us their unofficial Grandmas---a privilege we take very seriously!!!Sometimes I feel sorry for these poor things---but one can't ignore certain of their play activities which are sure to give them grief!!!Their mothers appreciate our keeping an eye on these activities---they can safely attend to their household work---cooking the evening meals.We host some parties for these kids sometimes---arranging eats like Pizzas,Samosas and Eggless Cakes because some of these are Vegetarian.The presence of these children------running around calling and screaming as they play----relaxes all of us---their joy is infectious!!!
Each Monday and Friday we attend our Yoga Class with total sincerity---Mitra is a qualified Yoga Teacher.This takes place on the Terrace of our Condominium.This takes us about 1 hour 30 minutes.I love this activity---the clear blue sky---the bird calls---the gentle breezes--the soft nuances of Mitra's relaxing voice----all help to make these classes special!!
This activity helps me to rewind and refresh my soul---daily---and I thank The Almighty every night for providing me with such pure and innocent entertainment!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SONPARI1 1/25/2010 2:47AM

    You are so lucky to have a group of friends, in spite of being in India, I have not seen how my neighbors look like for the past 5 yrs! I am J of u :)

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ATMANI 1/24/2010 7:22AM

    Beautifully said. My mom never fails to relay her Condominium Complex activities whenever we talk. Living away from India, this kind of friendship is something that I cannot even imagine.

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ZANNACHAN 1/23/2010 11:57AM

    How lovely to have such a good group of friends right where you live! I haven't had neighbors as friends since I was a kid--acquaintances, yes, people I might chat with a bit on my way out the door or while watering plants on my balcony, but not real friends. You are luck to have that. And how wonderful that you not only can share recipes and do yoga together, but that you throw parties for the children. It sounds like a great group of women.

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EACHDAYAGIFT 1/23/2010 10:04AM

    Wow! I love your description of your group and the fact that you have been together for so long. I have a smaller group of women who don't live near one another anymore. We call ourselves " the Royal Ladies" and have our signature "royal wave" like the queen of England uses. How wonderful that you give parties for the children sometimes. I would love if you could post a picture of where you gather so i can see if my mental picture is close!

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Embarassing Moments!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

There are some incidents which begin by being very embarassing---but become fondly recalled funny memories!!
In our G.S.B. community we give Baby Showers during the first preganancy---starting after the 7th.month.When I was preganant with Lotta I was invited by loads of relatives and depending on the closeness of our relationship----gifted with a lot of things---including Saries.My father's older sister-in-law Kaki(My paternal Uncle's wife)too issued an invitation for Dinner and while I visted her once just before the event showed me a beautiful Kanjivaram Silk sari.It was royal blue in colour with a black print on it and a gold border.I just fell in love with it and she asked me about whether or not I liked it.My answer was to exclaim at it's beauty---which satisfied her.On reaching home I described the sari to the family and everyone was amazed that I was getting such an expensive gift!!!
Three days later when we all went over for Dinner,Kaki opened the door wearing that same sari----I was dumbfounded!!!The rest of the family guessed my predicament and my face fell big time when I was presented with the Blouse piece of the sari,a Coconut and Rice after the meal----I was teased about this for months after the event!!!
Today it has become a fond memory of my Kaki who showered as much love as she was capable of on me and I still remember her fondly because a lot of my childhood memories feature her in a stellar role!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FERRETLOVER1 1/23/2010 7:02AM

    Cute story!

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Mystic Rites

Friday, January 22, 2010

Final farewells to Mummy were said on Wednesday----all the funerary rites are finally over.
There is one thing that I can't logically explain.Hindus believe that for 13 days after the death the soul is tied to the home and loved ones of the deceased.On the 10th.day after the passing away, the Rites for helping the soul on it's onward journey begin.This is called 'Pinda Daan' ceremony.Since Mummy had no son the rites were performed by Sudhir as her Nephew as well as Son-in-Law.
Hindus revere Crows as messengers of the dead and on the 'Tithis' or dates of deaths according to Hindu Calender,food is fed to the Crows because it is believed the departed souls take the form of Crows and thus accept the offerings and bless the families..The 10th. day ceremony involves the feeding of the Soul via the Crows.Balls of Rice are set upon some steel vessels in a circle on a plate(Thaali).After the Pooja is performed, this thaali is set out among the Crows by the person performing the rites-----one specific Ball is to be touched first and then the rest.
This process was followed by Sudhir---the Crows would come near,hover around but not touch the Balls!!!Then the priest asked us if there was something that had not been fulfilled---a wish or some desire perhaps?That is when the thought struck both Ritu and me simultaneously----she was worried about Ritu----so both of us spoke together!!!Ritu asked her not to worry---she was capable of looking after herself and I promised to look after Ritu as long as I lived---and both of us asked her to go in peace.
Wonder of wonders---one Crow hovering around immediately began to eat the SPECIFIED ball of Rice!!!This incident has given me an insight into our religious Rites and Practices---no wonder Hinduism has survived for so long---it's contemporaries like the Egyptian,Sumerian and Mesopotamian Religions are today ancient History!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NATTIEGAL82 1/22/2010 12:37AM

    Komal - i got gooseflesh and i agree with u about Hinduism - more than a religion it is a way of life and behind all the "so called rituals" is faith - not just in GOD but in karma and soul! A friend of mine lost his dad quite suddenly (his dad was around 55)...and he was mighty upset...but he was telling me that after the 13th day ceremony -he felt a mighty calm and while he misses his dad - his anger is no longer there! God bless!

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ZANNACHAN 1/22/2010 12:32AM

    I've been thinking of your family. It is really hard to say good bye to any loved one, but I think it's especially hard to say good bye to a parent--the only thing harder would be a child or a spouse.

I knew the part about the 13 days, but not the part about the crows. I don't know very much about Hinduism, unfortunately, despite having friends who are Hindus--just bits and pieces. That's unfortunate, really, because even though it's not my religion it is a religion with ancient roots-and as I understand it ties to Buddhism, which is a tradition I find particularly fascinating--that clearly speaks something of value to the people who practice it--speaks to their truths, their values, their hearts and even their souls. Even if I don't share it, I can respect that. If that makes sense.

Funeral rites are powerful things. Anthropologists talk about the important role they play in helping the family deal with grief. Their are a rite of transition, where the loved one is transformed symbolically from living to dead, and help the family cope with that change. I was not able to make my grandfather's funeral, for reasons beyond my control, and because I wasn't able to make it it made it much harder in a lot of ways to deal with his loss, even though it was no surprise--he'd been very ill for a very long time, and in some ways it was a relief, because I knew he wasn't suffering any more. But it was hard. But I was able to be there when they buried his ashes, and that helped--I guess because I got to at least say goodbye.

I'm glad that you got to say that last good bye, too, and to assure her that Ritu would be alright, that she would be looked after. I'm sure she heard, and I hope knowing that she heard helps you and your family through this tough time.


Comment edited on: 1/22/2010 12:33:22 AM

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Konkan strip is like an after thought on the Western Coast of India and begins in Maharshtra and ends at Kerala passing through Goa and Karnataka on the way.Legend has it that Lord Parshurama had sworn to rid the Earth of the Kshatriyas-- the Warrior race but was prevailed upon by the Gods to relent.He therefore shot an arrow into the Arabian Sea and pulled out the Konkan Region.If one looks at the Map of India---Konkan DOES look like an afterthought----a thin strip running alongside the sheer and steep cliffs of the Western Ghats!!!
Goa is a land of Serendipity---the laid back attitude of the people,fertile soil, Rice plantations,Coconut Palms, Cashews,Areca Nuts,Mangosteen(Kokum) and Mango groves,Manganese and other Mines in plenty----all hint at being blessed by Nature.This tiny strip is watered by two wide fresh Water Rivers---The Zuari and The Mandovi----there is a flush of both Fresh and Salt Water Fish in Goa.The land is so fertile that the people are totally relaxed in their unhurried attitude-----"suseygaad" literally means unhurried---totally laid back!!!
Vasco De Gama laid the seat of Portuguese power here way back in the mid 1400s and Goa became indepedent in !960 and joined the Indian Union.It has an interesting and chequered History but today is known for it's Cuisine,Beaches and Feni---a potent Liquor made from Cashews.Like Vodka colourless AND like Vodka packs a kick.There is a flush of beautiful beaches,thick green foliage,old Portuguese ruins of Churches and Forts as well as the Old Goa complex and the Sea Port built by the Portuguese and still going strong.There are loads of Flowers with brilliant hues and fascinating scents and the whole ambience is like being in another world!!!
It is really heartening to see how both Hinduism and Catholicism co-exist peacefully here.North Goa houses the relics of St. Francis in the Bom Jesus church at Old Goa while the Hindu Temples of Mangueshi,Mhalsa and Shanta Durga to name a few ,are situated in the Southern part.
The architecture of Goa too has Portuguese overtones and the Cuisine is a mix of both cultures and extremely spicy and pungent enough to induce tears in the eyes and a runny nose---but extremely tasty and very satisfying.It has a wealth of Legends,stories and of course Ghosts who are supposed to manifest themselves in the old ruins---of which there are plenty!!!
Our Family Diety is at Ponda--Shri Shanta Durga while the Diety of my paternal family is Lord Mangesh.The Temple of Shri Mhalsa at Mhardol is one of the oldest Temples in the region.It was said that anyone who lied after placing a hand on the old Temple Bell would instantly struck down and so powerful was this belief that even the Portuguese rulers used this method to get to the bare facts in complicated cases!!!
The Goans are a very loving,friendly hospitable and out going people who love to pass the day with their friends.Blessed as they are they have managed to capitalise on the resources gifted to them by Nature and are progressing fast----without losing touch with their past and their traditions!!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZANNACHAN 1/18/2010 10:08AM

    That sounds lovely. I bet it is a beautiful place to visit--or to live.

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PAM1864 1/18/2010 4:41AM

    Hi I enjoyed reading your blog. I love Goa. Last vacation I had gone there with my husband and kids. We traveled by road from Pune. My profile photo was taken there. Thanks for the detailed information. The Temple of Shri Mhalsa at Mhardol I missed, so I will make one more trip there. emoticon emoticon

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All that Clutter!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How much of stuff we accumulate during our lives!!!Utensils,clothes----all of no use after we go.
Mummy's left behind a whole houseful of clutter---utensils made of solid Brass---wedding gifts from her parents.Huge things---one can cook for 30-35 people in them---but no use today because the institution known as the "Kalhaaee"wallahs is extinct!!!These need to be coated with tin inside to allow one to cook in them or else the food cooked in these could turn harmful. I remember sitting fascinated and open mouthed at the expertise of the man---he'd make a hole in the ground and light a fire in it.Then he'd use a blower to build it up to high heat.After the fire began roaring he'd start coating the inside of the Utensils with Tin---when done he'd dip the hot Utensil in a tub of cold Water to set the Tin coating----I still remember the hissing of the cooling 'Degchi" or "Tapeli"!!!!The weight of these Utensils is another problem---they weigh a minimum of 2.5 kgs.each----who has the strength to lift these any more????She hated the thought of us doing away with them---"you'll throw me out too!!"was what she had to say whenever the topic of disposing these off came up----Ma--WHAT are we to do with those things????
Sarees!!!There so many of them---various types---from various States of India---various materials!!! Sorting through all of them is going to be decidedly hectic---but those can also be given away---that's a relief---somewhat!!!
Photographs we'll keep---so also some of the other stuff like Cook Books---Daddy'd cut out and paste Recipes from magazines for her.Guess Sayali'll be happy with a Book or two too.
What has this taught me? No Hoarding----I'm not going to hoard stuff anymore---everything that's gotta go's gotta go---my daughters shouldn't have to deal with any emotional guilt after I go.However painful it maybe--the usefull stuff ONLY stays the rest goes---starting coming Thursday 'coz Wednesday is the twelfth day---all the last rites will get over then.
So here's to thorough clearing out of ALL the clutter Komal's made!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZANNACHAN 1/18/2010 10:06AM

    it's amazing how much stuff people can accumulate in a lifetime, and it's hard sorting through it when dealing with grief on top of it. *Hugs* Condolences to you and your family.

I'm a pack rat, I confess. I find it really hard to get rid of things that have the potential to be useful, both because there is a part of me thinking "but I might use that sometime" and because it really goes against my grain to put something that is perfectly functional in a landfill somewhere. I have an easier time donating things to charities, because then I can hope that someone will find them useful, at least.

Comment edited on: 1/18/2010 10:07:36 AM

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BAYSIDE07 1/16/2010 6:43AM

  SOrry about the loss of your Mom.

I know what you mean about clutter. My parents are in their 80s and the thought of going through ALL THAT STUFF is overwhelming. I am a minimalist and do not want any of that for myself. Goodwill will literally get unused items. 30+ years old, but unused.

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RD03875 1/16/2010 5:10AM

    My condolences to you and your family.

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