Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Settling Down

My colleague has recently got married. She was working till before her wedding and now, she has settled down to become a nice "wife."

I met her today and found that it's a complete different world that she is living in. Her life before her wedding was so unlike to what she is living now. Then she was working, now she is at home. Then she lived alone and worked. Now she stays at her in-laws, a joint family of parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and children, and doesn't work. Then she wore jeans and dresses. Now she wears saris and is decked up with jewellery.

Is that what settling down after being married is? It's quite unsettling and spooky!

Friday, July 16, 2010

कोट, टोपी, आणि धोतर घातलेले आजोबा

काल मी सकाळी साधारण साडे आठ वाजता झेड पुलावरून जात होते. तेव्हा बघितलं अश्या एका आजोबाना. स्वच्छ, पांढरे धोतर, छानसा फिकट पिवळा कोट, आणि डोक्यावर काळी टोपी. पुलावरून खाली पाण्यात बघत होते. इतके छान होते ते.
असले आजोबा आता दुर्मिळच.

खरंच, आजचे आजोबा सगळे hi-tech झाले आहेत. धोतर-टोपी तर सोडाच, साधा सदरा घातलेले आजोबा पण दिसत नाहीत. हल्लीचे आजोबा directly T-Shirt, Jeans, कॅप, आणि काय-काय नवीन fashionable कपडे घालतात.

तसं बघायला गेला तर आजकालच्या आज्ज्या तरी कुठे नऊवारी साड्या घालतात? त्या देखील पंजाबी ड्रेस घालतात, काही आज्ज्या तर अगदी Jeans, T-Shirt देखील घालतात. हा आहे आजच्या एकविसाव्या शतकातील "change."

म्हणजे हा बदल चांगला नाही असा मी नाही म्हणत. पण असले आजोबा किंवा नऊवारी घातलेल्या आज्ज्या दिसल्या की एकदम भूतकाळात जातो आपण आपसूक. आपले स्वतःचे आजी-आजोबा आठवतात. आणि मग त्यांनी आपले केलेले सगळे लाड पण.

आज्जी बरोबर दुपारची कामं केलेली आठवतात. दुपारची कामं म्हणजे सांडगे करणे, पापड करणे, कसले-कसले मसाले करणे. काय-काय असायचं. आणि दुपारी कपडे धुणाऱ्या बाई आल्या की आज्जीची साडी वाळत घालायच्या. तेव्हा आणि अजूनही असं वाटतं की केवढी मोठ्ठी ती आज्जीची साडी! हाल्ली साधी पाचवारी साडी घालायला पण कंटाळा येतो.

आजोबा आमच्या करता संध्याकाळी काय-काय आणायचे: गोळ्या, कणसं, बोरं, गरम-गरम खरी, चण्या-मन्या बोरं...फार मज्जा यायची.

आज्जीने एक मोडक्या घड्याळ घेऊन आम्हाला घड्याळ बघायला शिकवल होता. पण आता परत कशी आणू शकू आपण ती वेळ???

Friday, July 9, 2010

He Is Out Of Danger

The Lieutenant is now out of danger. Thank God!

But it's not just God that we must thank! It's his own willpower too! He has come out of grave danger and giving a hard fight.

His story is just the story of every bahaddur hero that we know our armed forces have! And that itself increases his bravery hundred times.

He's still recouperating, but I know that soon he will be up and running.

Salute to every armed force member!

We are proud of you Lieutenant!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Prayers For A Brave Hero

He has got a bullet in his stomach, and he needs several operations to get back to normal. It's already some days now and the bullet is still inside him.

This brave hero was hit in the stomach with a bullet by the "you-know-whos." He was found after 12 hours with a bullet inside him. It's a wonder that he is still alive! His stomach, small intestine, large intestine are all affected and are in dangerous conditions. The liver is damaged! But not his spirit!!

He is still fighting for his life, living each day bravely. Every new operation is going to be a new test.

I want him to recover from this ordeal. I want him to be hale and hearty like he always was.

I don't want him to succumb to his injuries like other soldiers have.

I am praying constantly for his recovery! Lieutenant, we are there for you! Wishing you a speedy recovery, Brave Hero! We salute your bravery! Don't leave us!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Here They Come With टाळ And चिपळ्या!

The पालखी will be here next week. With the chant of "Gyanba Tukaram!" they will usher in the festival season.

Palkhis remind me of those long processions, those वारकरी, all swaying to the rhythmic sound of टाळ and चिपळ्या crossing miles and miles on foot, having that one goal in sight, of reaching Pandharpur, the abode of Vithu Mauli. Palkhis are something that make me awe-struck. This परंपरा  as we call it in Marathi, the yearly यात्रा has continued for the past thousand years. Isn't it wonderful that so many warkaris walk this walk every year? Can we do it even once in our lifetime?

In Pune, some years back, Palkhis used to take a different route. They used to pass through the Appa Balwant Chowk (ABC.) My Babai (Aai's Aai) used to stay right in that chowk, next to Prabhat talkies. Now that house is pulled down for road-widening. But I remember when we were kids, all us cousins together would wait eagerly for the Palkhis. We would crowd ourselves in the small windows on the first floor to see the processions, the warkaris; wait eagerly, craning our necks to get दर्शन of Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj and Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhis. It was always an exciting time.

I agree that when these palkhis come to our cities and towns and villages, we face a lot of issues. We face traffic jams, overcrowding, unclean places when they move to their next destination. But no one can doubt their spirit, their perseverance, their भक्ति. I know one of my friend, will disagree with all I have said here about Palkhis. But I still believe that Palkhis are one of the wonders in Maharashtrian culture.


When Palkhis passed our town, we knew that Ashadhi Ekadashi was coming soon. Ashadhi Ekadashi means साबुदाणा खिचडी. Most Maharashtrians fast on this day to pay obeisance to Vithu Mauli. We kids were just interested in the sabudana khichadi that we used to get then. Even now, I savour the test of that khichadi that's made on Ashadhi Ekadashi.

So with Palkhis the festival season begins. Shortly after Palkhis we have the month of श्रावण. Shravan means rains. Shravan means mehendi. Shravan means awesome delicacies such as ukdichya shenga on Naagpanchami, kothimbir vadya, tandalachi sandani on Shil Saptami, narali bhaat on Narali Pournima, purnachya karanjya, puranpolya, chavachya karanjya. Shravan means Shravani Somvar, Shukrawar-cha vaan. Shravan means raksha bhandhan. Shravan means Janmashtami. Shravan also means listening to those कहाणी which invariable start with "आट-पाट  नगर होतं," and end with "ही साठा उत्तराची कहाणी, पाचा उत्तराची सुफळ संपूर्ण."  Shravan means fun.

Right after, come Gauri-Ganpati. I don't need to tell how important this festival is for us. Every household celebrates it. Everyone eagerly welcomes Lord Ganesh at home and is equally unhappy to bid them goodbye. Ganpati means pandals on roads and music on loudspeakers. It's the time to check how many aaratis you have by-hearted. It's time to check how good can you dance the "Ganpati Dance" on the visarjan day. Ganpati means celebrations.

After a hiatus of 15 days when we pay our respects to our ancestors, we are back to celebration time.

After worshipping Shri Ganesh, it's time to worship Durga Mata. नवरात्री is celebrated with great enthusiasm. There are yatras at almost all Devi mandirs, be it Mahalaxmi, Tuljabhavani, Ekaveera Devi, and various other forms of Adi Shakti! Not just that, this is the time to worship the स्त्री शक्ति through haldi-kunku ceremonies. And how can you forget the garba and Bengali Durga Pooja that mark the Navratri celebrations! The festival ends on दसरा! Dushera means distributing gold in the form of आपटा leaves. (Thank God! I can't imagine everyone distributing real gold, what with gold prices reaching sky-high.) Dushera also means sweets and a sumptuous meal of पूरी-श्रीखंड. It's the traditional sweet that has to be made on Dushera in a Maharashtrian household. Ask Chitale Bandhu!

Then comes दिवाळी! Lights, firecrackers, sweets, new clothes, new plans, new purchases, the list is never-ending. Getting up early to bathe with uttna, to light the first fataka, wearing brand new clothes and visiting temples early morning, visiting Sarasbaug, Parvati, or even Omkareshwar for Deepotsavs, visiting relatives, posting cards wishing Diwali greetings, all make Diwali what it is. Diwali brings in sweets, all kinds of them, karanjya, ladus, shankarpalya, anarase, chiwada, chirote, shev, chakli, and what not! Rangoli, diyas, akaashkandil, kille, and Diwali holidays for schools...I just can't wait for Diwali!

And then it ends like all good things. Intense four months of festivities end abruptly when Diwali is over and there's a definite lull in the feel-good quotient. Of course, as months go by, we have Tulsi Vivaah, Kojagiri Pournima, Datta Jayanti, Holi Pournima, Ranga Panchami to celebrate. But nothing can surpass the excitement of those four months of Shravan to Kartik.

Let the feast begin! (Dumbledore-style!)