This is an old post that was initially a page. Switching from ‘Page’ to ‘Post’ requires me to hit the ‘Publish’ button and so you will see a whole lot of new ‘old’ posts on the Blog as revamping progresses! Sorry for the inconvenience and confusion, although far be it for me to stop you from actually reading some of them if so inclined! They haven’t been read much and would love your attention 😀
This Diwali, there’s an undercurrent of sadness for me and mine, but there is also great joy & comfort in Ishaan! It’s his first Diwali and we’ve stuck to good old (is there any other kind?) tradition!
Diwali is celebrated for a thousand reasons in India – every community picks their own 😉 It’s a democracy after all! Here in Goa, it’s a celebration of Lord Krishna’s victory over the demon ‘Narkasur’! Yes I know, yet another demon, yet another victory!! It’s a wonder they kept a track of them all 😉
This Narkasur guy harassed the Gods & Men, in the usual manner of demons until, the Gods ran to Lord Vishnu and begged for help! They always did this! Never was Indra as King of the Gods able to handle any demon himself! So, Lord Vishnu as Krishna fought and defeated Narkasur, who to save himself from certain death hid in a little excessively bitter fruit called the ‘kaarit’, which Krishna then coolly proceeded to smash with his big toe!!!!
The moral of the story – when you’re trying to save your life, don’t hide in a fruit!!
In honor of this rather squishy death, we Goans duly smash our own little ‘kaarits’ and symbolically have a taste, each of us turning into momentary Krishnas’! 😉 Well, be that as it may, we have ‘Narkasur’ competitions here in our major cities, Panjim, Mapusa and Margao.
So, this year, like all ‘good’ parents, Ishaan loaded into the car-seat, off we went to Panjim for a little ‘demon-viewing’! It was pretty cool actually…normally sleepy Panjim was buzzing with traffic and people. Both moving ever so slowly, stopping after every few meters, to gaze upon the sometimes fierce, often funny ‘demon-faces’, all to the accompaniment of the latest Bollywood hits, blaring from giant loudspeakers! Deafening! Colorful! Hilarious!
We joined the procession and viewed a few ourselves, unloaded Ishaan and took the mandatory picture! He blew the demon a flying kiss and promptly lost all interest!
I’m really not in the mood for writing. Crabby & exhausted – mentally & physically from 3 days of celebrations. No, definitely not in the mood for writing, which is why I need to write. Unending rituals, entertaining guests, constant eating, firecrackers, the rush to get stuff organized and then the worst part of all festivities, clearing up after…all fun in short bursts…but exhausting collectively. Also, it has finally sunk in…Diwali will never again be the same. The vacuum left by my brother’s loss will never be filled, and so an undercurrent of sadness runs through the festivities and my heart. I thought I could deal, but the tears come unexpectedly, triggered by seemingly random events, thoughts and things people say or leave unsaid. Sunday was especially difficult…it was ‘Bhaubiz’, a day that celebrates the ‘brother-sister’ bond. Lets just say it’s no longer on my favorite festival list.
Alright…enough. I didn’t intend for a festival post to be morose, and it’s not like we didn’t enjoy, so on to the happier things…Thursday night, the night before Diwali, we set out to survey the ‘Narkasurs’ on display. ‘Narkasur’ is the name of the demon that Lord Krishna killed on the eve of Diwali. He had hidden himself in a fruit that Krishna crushed with his big toe!! Talk about easy 😉 In Goa, it’s customary to make effigies of the demon and burn them early on Diwali morning (4 am), a sort of Indian Guy Fawkes. This year the unseasonal rain put a damper on the event though…the effigies are stuffed with firecrackers and those were wet and ineffective when the time came to light them. Still, we took Ishaan and did the rounds and though he enjoyed himself, he is now going through a ‘I’m scared’ phase! Anything new scares him, from a peacock feather to a demon 😉 Here are a few effigies we saw…rarely scary and often downright hilarious!!
We spent Diwali morning @ my brother-in-law’s place. We ate different kinds of ‘puffed-rice‘ dishes (another Goan custom based on the assumption that Lord Krishna loved ‘puffed-rice’! Why couldn’t he have loved chicken?), before which my sister-in-law did a little puja for her hubby and daughter, my hubby and Ishaan, who of course was the star of the show. He’s older now and impatiently interested in everything that’s done, which makes him accident-prone and me temper-prone (that’s not even a word, I know!). After the puja was done, we all relaxed and Ishaan got to his favorite activity – playing cricket 🙂 That evening we worshiped the Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi. We had a small puja in Dad’s shop (he sells auto spare parts), as did the rest of the shops in the neighborhood. More rituals, more crackers, more ‘prasad’ (sweets) to eat! Later we had guests and by the time the last one left, it was after 9 and we were all pooped! Granny and Mom had been up and on their feet since 5 am, cooking and getting stuff organized for the puja. None of us was particularly hungry and hubby in fact had a bad tummy upset. We turned in early and were dead to the world as soon as head hit pillow! Saturday was relatively quiet and I took the opportunity to visit my favorite bookstore and get our next Bookclub selection – Empires of the Indus by Alice Albinia, among others. It was welcome relief from all the madness at home, what with sick hubby and whiny Ishaan. In the evening I went out again to another favorite – Fab India, for some last-minute shopping.
Sunday was Bhaubeez, as I mentioned earlier and hubby’s brother’s family come over. A difficult day for me. My niece did a little puja for Ishaan and they exchanged gifts. I’d got her a neat pair of silver earrings from Fab that she loved 🙂 Then we were off to Goenchin for lunch. Let’s just say Lunch didn’t turn out the way I had planned. Oh it wasn’t the food, which was wonderful as it always is in Goenchin; nor the company. No, it was Ishaan, who had a tummy upset and lets just say I barely got to sample some stone cold starters and a bite of the main course between trips to the loo. I didn’t handle the situation maturely (a polite way of saying I lost my cool and my displeasure evident), and my already frayed nerves reached dangerously near breaking point. Everyone else seemed really cool and calm, which just served to piss me off further…yeah, what can I say…I was just having a really, really bad day. I survived. We all did and back home again, were able to relax. Ishaan of course was quickly back to normal, being his charming entertaining self, making everyone laugh, once again showing off his cricket skills 🙂 The resilience of children impresses me yet again. How I wish I could bounce back like he does. Or perhaps it’s his innocence I yearn for.
Sunday evening we visited my best friend Beena’s parents and looked through her brother Vinod’s wedding album and video. The album is a book…very well done with gorgeous pictures of the couple among family and friends. We’re in it too 🙂 and it was wonderful reliving that happy time. And then Aunty brought out Beena’s wedding pictures from 18 years ago and we relived a fresh set of memories, from a time when we were all so much younger, innocent and ready to take on the world, unaware and as yet untouched by major tragedy. Good times, happy times 🙂
And so ended another Diwali. Bittersweet and rather forlorn for me on a personal level. But Ishaan had fun, especially with the crackers and for that I am thankful. Next year, I’m thinking of an out-of-town Diwali…might help with the bitters…we’ll see.
Until then…Stay Happy People!
p.s. There was no getting away from President Obama this Diwali! Local media went overboard with their coverage of his visit! Surprisingly International media didn’t seem to think the visit too important…other than a mention here and there, I rarely caught a glimpse on CNN or BBC!! Wonder why?!
p.p.s. This post has taken me two days to write…sigh. Ishaan is becoming increasingly clingy and it’s tough to get even a few minutes of uninterrupted time 😦 Oh Pushpa…where art thou?
In the midst of a chaotic build-up to the Festival of Lights on Friday, Wednesday offered an oasis of if not quite calm, then respite from the craziness of last-minute cleaning and shopping sprees!
Here’s what I did…
Ishaan & I visited a dear friend and her family, who are visiting Goa for a couple of days from Bombay. It feels like I’ve known her all my life, although in years I think it would be just about 7. Aparna & I first met when we were working together at Good Health. She’s a dedicated professional (a dermatologist), a passionate woman with a wicked sense of humor and a fabulous Mom! She is now also a newly-published author and her first book, Skin Deep, An Inside Out Approach to Looking Good, Naturally!, has just hit bookshelves all over India. We hit it off at once and our friendship is now in that comfort-zone that exists between best friends. You know, the one where long gaps in communication seem not to matter at all, where there is understanding, acceptance and no judgement. I think I can safely say that we both wish we could see each other more often than we do, but when we do, we don’t waste any time getting down to the business of making every moment count, every moment special 🙂
Yesterday was no different! Aparna now has an adorable, exuberant, 1-yr-old Lab called Rocco, a recent addition to her family. Rocco and I have been introduced on our recent trip to Bombay when he licked me and especially Ishaan on every body part he could get too!! A bit overwhelming for Ishaan, but exciting for a dog-lover like me 🙂
Thanks to her, I discovered a hitherto unvisited beach in South Goa (unvisited by me I mean, and from the looks of it by the touristy throngs thank goodness), Arossim. A beautiful stretch of smooth white sand, the water line dotted with hundreds of scurrying translucent crabs and sadly dead starfish, and a solitary shack. After an unseasonal thunderstorm, the weather was beautiful…cool and breezy. We all enjoyed the water – humans & dog! Ishaan is becoming quite the water baby 🙂 I’m definitely going back to take pictures…we were too busy having fun yesterday to take too many.
We had lunch at the resort next door to where Aparna was staying, @ the Heritage Village Resort, a charming boutique hotel that has pleasant, helpful staff and a very good lunch buffet! I pigged out on the croutons that were done to perfection (a rarity!) and Ishaan enjoyed the fried fish and Mediterranean roasted chicken! Before lunch, we worked up our appetite by playing (what else?) cricket on the lawns. I don’t think Ishaan could have asked for more enthusiastic playmates 🙂 He took to them all, like a duck to water & and walked back from lunch, happily holding on to Aparna’s hubby’s finger 🙂
We were loathe to leave, of course! There’s always that one more thing to say, to ask, to discuss…it’s never ending! And I was happy to have spent time with Sharanya with whom I share a special relationship.
She’s goofy, witty, smart and utterly fun! She gets me 🙂 and I’m happy to report, approves of my parenting skills, such as they are 😉 High praise indeed!
And so, though by the time we got home, we were pretty pooped, I was also feeling recharged like you do after meeting a dear friend. The fatigue of preparations seemed lifted and the world a brighter place! Such is the healing power of a great friendship!
Tonight, we do the rounds to catch the Narakasurson display and tomorrow we celebrate Diwali, the ‘Festival of Lights’, with enough horsepower to recharge our lives!! You’ll hear about that here in due course, probably next week after the dust has settled!
Until then…Stay Safe and have a Wonderful Diwali surrounded by love and lights 😀
This year is different…it’s happy-sad, the mood sombre, the festivities low-key…
There’s a darkness in my heart, that no amount of light can fill, the emptiness my brother left behind…this is the first Diwali at home in Goa without him and nothing is the same…
Yes I’ve sent out Diwali greetings to friends and family and yes we took Ishaan to Margao (it’s his first Diwali) and yes on the surface of it all, we had a good Diwali…but…but…such a killer this but! Although Ishaan has brought me great joy, it doesn’t lessen the pain of my brother’s loss…how can it? They are two different people, both unique, both precious but one irrevocably lost…
Monday is ‘Bhaubiz’, a day that celebrates the brother-sister bond. I don’t dare think about it. Have taken the easy way out and will be going to my niece’s so Ishaan can celebrate his first ‘Bhaubiz’ and I can busy myself with him, hoping the joy he brings will drown my sorrow…but…but…there’s that but again…
I knew it would be this way, I’m not an idiot. Was just living in denial for as long as I could…not long enough…not long enough…