September 22, 2016

Warning: This post is not intended to target any one person. All the opinions are purely the writer's ramble.

I hate Desis! Oh well, hate is a strong word, they say. Rather, I don't like desis. These days, it's one of the in things. Like wearing pants that show your bottoms, heaps of hair on the top of the head, like growing beards, over sized watches...like many of these things we see and hear everyday, dislike a desi being a desi. I hear this statement so often. Also, I have noticed not all immigrants have this special dislike for desis. There are certain categories. I don't want to single them lest they all file a law suit on me. Anything is possible in this country, you know!

This special section of desi disliking desi disorder can be found anywhere. At your work place, at your common parties, in your community club etc.They do not like to gather with a lot of Indians, send kids to a Montessori with Indian teachers, they don't like to visit Indian doctors (poor fellas work their asses off than anyone else to settle in their profession), don't visit Indian restaurants. Though many Americans love Indian food, this tribe carries their pride in savoring over Sushi and dining at a Lebanese or an Ethiopian restaurant.  For that matter, they have nothing to do with India at all except feel unlucky for being an Indian. (The unlucky part, I made it up :P).

Mom lives with us here and has come across this increasing breed in recent days. That's when a few questions sprang up in our discourse.
  1. Aren't we all desis? Aren't we here like any other one of them? To make a livelihood? Then why hate the same breed so much?
  2. When you don't like Desis so much, why do you live among them? Why don't you buy a home in a place where there is no Indian population at all? May be go to Alaska..just a thought. I know folks who have done that too, BTW, Not Alaska really...
  3. Why do you celebrate Indian festivals? Eat Indian food?
  4. If your kid is sick, why do you call your desi grandma and ask for home remedies?
  5. Why this touch me not attitude? 
Living among Indians, helped me in many ways. There are times when either of us can't drop or pick our kids from schools. I just have to call one of our neighbors and they do it for us. One of our neighbors had their family visit and all of them wouldn't fit in their car. We were more than happy to lend our van. Last weekend, there was a talk show of my favorite writer and we were wondering what to do with the kids. I just had to knock on a door and drop her there. The same neighbor called mom to ask if she can cook and send something as she was sick for past 3 days. It is mutual. Folks, there is an unexplained camaraderie in the desi community. Many of our organisations are going above and beyond in extending a helping hand to our community. One needn't face unforeseen circumstances to experience it. Next time when you utter: "Oh..Desis!"; Remember! If you aren't tolerant to your own kind, no one else will be!

It's implied that you be a Roman in Rome. One may change the way he dresses, talks, walks, eats but not the way he's born. That doesn't make you any less Indian. 

P.S: Let me admit, this post rose from my own intolerance and how I grew out of it.
P.s.s: I hope you all like this new template...more peaceful and simple compared to my old one.

July 27, 2016

Each time I vanish and pop-up after a few months; I notice that I come up with a post of Ammusings as one of them will always be lying in my drafts. Here's one more for you and me:

Ammu: "Amma, I really don't care about American Presidents!"
Me: Why?
Ammu: "Because I am not an American..
I am an Indian"
Me: So, who is the Indian president?
A: Obama
Me: hehehe...no .....he is the American President
A: "Then who is the Indian president?"
Me: Pranab Mukherjee
A: Moh- kah-who?
Me: Pranab Mukherjee
A: What's his first name?
Me: Pranab
A: Para..What is the last name?
Me: After a good 5 minutes of trying to say the name right
A: Abraham Lincoln lives on a Penny!!
It took me a few seconds to understand that
And George Bush lives on a Quarter!

Ammu: "Amma, the girl's bathroom in the school smells nasty, yucky and horrible!"

Me: "Why do you think so?"
A: "Because you know kids don't flush properly"
Me: Ohh!!
A: "You know if you crack an egg...and the yolk comes out?"
Me: Hmm
A:"Like take another egg and crack it and there are three eggs with yolks open"
Me: Ewww
A: And you know it smells as if it stayed there for 58 years!
Me: 58 yrs???? OMG
Don't know where that number came from...sigh!!

One evening while her dad was doing his stretches:

Ammu: "Nanna, did you know what?"
S: "What?"
A: People are symmetrical
    Becuase they have sides
    Separates her legs and touches her left leg and right leg
    See.... look at my nose
    There are two sides!!

Ammu started collecting money for Jump Rope for Heart Event. When I asked her to give her contribution; she said she would do it at the end.
She adds one dollar at the end to the list of names
Me: "How come you donated only one dollar?"
Ammu in her nonchalant way: "Because I don't want to waste my money"
Me: Seriously???

While practicing music, Ammu suddenly waves off her head and says this thing makes me mad.
Me: "What thing?"
Ammu: "There are these two boys who told me: hey girl, do you know how a booty looks like?"
Me: Surprised and shocked: "they said that? to you?"
Ammu: "Yes, to me! They are big hypocrite boys who are stupid!"
Me: "What is hypocrite?" (She hears her brother use it often )
She actually doesn't know the meaning but wanted to use it for the complexity of the word and thinks that is a really bad, bad, bad cuss word.
Me: Next time if they say that, tell them: "Go ask your mommy and she will show you what a booty looks like..." (I was really mad)
After a few days...
Ammu: I saw them again...I wanted to smack their head with something!
Glad you didn't!!

February 1, 2016

You can read Part 1 here...

I remember saying I will come up with a Part 2 of the post and vanished into oblivion. After Bhogi, the second day is Sankranthi. Sankranthi means the migration of Sun from one Rashi (Sun sign) to another. When the Sun migrates from Dhanur Rasi (Sagittarius) to Makara Rasi (Capricorn) is when Makara Sankranthi is celebrated. I am sure you'll get this much info from anywhere on the internet. My purpose is not to define the festival but to share my memories associated with it.
         
      First thing that springs to my mind on hearing the word Sankranthi, is Ariselu. Ariselu made by my Ammamma are the best. She was one expert in making the jaggery syrup in the right consistency and exact crispness. As I am wired different, unlike everyone who loves Ariselu made with Jaggery, I would eat only those made with Sugar. She made sure she cooked a different batch at the end ONLY for her loving grand daughter. No one gives me that extra attention anymore :( Sob! Sob! Every year she would bring a big can of Ariselu, LaddoosKarapoosa etc etc

      Ariselu made and parceled by my mom-in-law with love

     Preparation of these savories was a huge deal. Preparations started a week before the actual festival. They were cooked collectively in one of the relative or neighbor's homes. After the cooking was done, we kids would go distributing to the same bunch. But then, what was the purpose of giving it to the same people again? More or less, we all cooked the same varieties. Who cared anyway? As kids, we just wanted a reason to visit the relative's or friend's place one more time. 

     Many people visit their villages or home towns for Sankranthi. That is where the festive season comes to full life. Newly wed daughters visit their maternal homes with their husbands. The new son-in-law has has most of his wishes fulfilled. Like a new bike, car etc...etc.

One practice that is famous in certain parts of Andhra is Kodi Pandelu. I can never get a word in English that translates the exact meaning. Though the High Court has put a ban on them, they continue to happen. There is a lot of money involved in betting that happen around these fights. I haven't witnessed one though.


        Image Courtesy: Youtube.com

Flying kites is something that always bring color and fun to Sankranthi. S narrates me stories of his childhood how they would sharpen the kite string with powdered glass. 

                             Image Courtesy: thehindu.com

Sankranthi as a festival has more memories than rituals and practices that go along with it. I will conclude this post with the third day, Kanuma.

Ammamma - maternal grand mother
Kodi Pandelu - Hen/Cock fights

January 17, 2016

Sankranthi, Pongal or Lohri as you may call it, is celebrated as the harvest festival across India on the 13th to 16th of January every year. Each state has their own way of celebrating the arrival of spring. For us in Andhra, we celebrate it over three days. First day is Bhogi, second day is Sankranthi and the third day is Kanuma. 

Starting with the month of Dhanurmasam (Mid Dec - Mid Jan) where the Sun enters the Dhanur Rasi, we start adorning our entrances with colorful muggulu. The muggu powder is made with the sand of lime stone. To give it a bit of smooth and white texture, we add rice flour to it. From amateur lines to huge designs, we progressed as we grew up. The size of my muggu would range anywhere from 5 to 35 dots in length. The bigger it is, the prouder we were. I wasn't a prize winner but I was almost an expert in making these beautiful patterns. Though a child, I would compete with the older ladies of the neighborhood in making bigger designs each day :-).  Mind you, these are not as easy as they seem to be. Getting the dots in a straight line is a challenge in itself. Our news paper would publish a Muggu each day. The first job in the morning is to grab it and practice it on a piece of paper. I would then neatly copy it in the fair muggu notebook that I duly maintained. The muggu would be decorated with Gobbemmalu (Cow dung balls), turmeric, kumkum and flowers. This is the stinkiest part of the whole process. 


Image courtesy: Nechcheli.com

It is a tradition to collect all the old and unused stuff of the house and set a bonfire called Bhogi mantalu in the wee hours of the morning. This symbolises the disposal of the old and the welcoming of the new. In the villages, elders watch out for the naughty kind who grab any piece of wooden furniture that is visible to use for their fire. Girls in teens dance around the fire singing songs in praise of lord Indra.

We take a special shower with sunni pindi (Herbal bath powder) and Shikakai and the entire family wears new clothes.

On the evening of Bhogi, we do a pooja and pour Bhogi PaLLu on the babies to kids. From months to 5-6 year old. Bhogi PaLLU is a mixture of Regi (berries, Indian plum), coins, flowers, sugar cane cubes, black chick peas.  Children are dressed up and they have a merry time collecting all the coins. We don't do the Bhongi mantalu or the Bhogi paLLu in my household though. May be we already grew up by then :-)

I have too many memories associated with the festival. One of the initial ones are the Haridasus that would go from door to door where we would pour rice in the akshya patra that he carried on his head. Like many things cultural, they are also becoming a rarity these days.

Pic courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rdkumarj/

As a child, I would eagerly wait and run to the main gate to look at the colorful Gangireddu and the Basavanna that went through the village playing their Sannayi. We would hand them down the clothes that are in usable condition. 


Pic Courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vijay_chennupati

I think I will stop it here for Bhogi and come up with a part 2 for Sankranthi...Thanks to Rachna for her Sankranthi post that triggered all these memories.

Muggulu - Rangoli
Gobbemmalu - Round balls made of cow dung
Bhogi Mantalu - bonfire made with cow dung cakes and old stuff of the house
Gangireddu - A Bull decorated with colorful clothes, bells and it dances
Basavanna - The guy who carries the Gangireddu
Sannayi - Clarinet.

January 6, 2016

Image courtesy: dreamstime.com
What do you want to be when you grow up? How often have we heard this question in our lives? At least in our childhood? The answer to this question keeps changing eternally as we grow up; for we keep growing up eternally.  Some of us chase our dream career and live up to that one dream. But most of us want to become something, study something and end up working as something or someone else.

In my growing up years, I wanted to become a lawyer. Do you want to know why? Because, yours truly had a great habit of arguing and a sharp tongue which I thought was enough to survive as a lawyer.  Later in High school, I wanted to become a journalist. I appeared for the entrance of a law college and got the admission, which I denied. Glad I did! However, there still remains an unfulfilled wish of not doing the journalism course. Whatever! I work as a s/w tester who books and cancels flights morning to evening. Well, my passengers can range anywhere from Brad Pitt to the Big B.

From dreaming on what to become to what I became; it's my turn to ask my kids. Right now, my daughter is very keen on becoming a teacher. She pretends to be one every day and repeats her Montessori schedule at home with us. Whereas, yours truly dreams on sending her to the Senate. Long way to go, huh? Yes, long way. By the way, nothing has changed since this post that had been sitting in my drafts for more than two years. She graduated to an art teacher.

My son keeps changing his options very often which is very natural being the son of this confused soul. Kids his age are already pretty clear on what they want to do.  One day he said, “Amma, I want to become a book illustrator”. Oh wow! The writer in me jumped with joy. A creative son for a creative mom. What else do I need? I said that’s great! "Amma, will I be famous if I am book illustrator?" Ah..well! yes, you will.

While the illustrator in him is put to sleep, he wanted to become an NBA player who could make millions.  And mind you, we don’t lift a finger in the house or move an inch of any muscle. But we sit in the sofa and discuss what shots Jordan threw, how much an NBA player makes per game and if Curry is better than LeBron.

"Amma, is it difficult to become an actor?" Long answer short, you need to have someone in the film industry. He then went over an extensive list of actors/actresses, comedians and how each of them became a film star. There were even attempts at becoming a director and that deserves a separate post. :-)

We were building our first home and the house was always filled with discussions regarding the plans, tiles, upgrades etc...If not an actor, an architect. He would come up with designs of buildings and even promised his aunt to build her a mansion. Yes, not a house. A mansion. All he does right now is sleep blissfully in the mansion built by his parents.

One lazy Sunday noon while I was cooking for the week ahead, he comes to help me in the kitchen. "I think it's better to learn cooking. If I don't have anything else, this will be an option." It was my turn to look at him in ....... (feel free to use your vocabulary to fill the blank).

Fast forward to an year and half...We were returning from a birthday party. "Amma, how much money do you think a magician will make?" Ehh..."A Magician?" Aahh...now it rings a bell...there was a magician at the Birthday party. "Oh boy!!"

Won't you tell me what you wanted to be when you grew up?