…And They Ask Me Where am I From?

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Call it my dilemma or jeopardy
answering one of the most simplest questions has been my life’s parody.
Neither deliberate, nor is it intended to harm
when they ask me, where am I from?

Voyaged the four corners, ear to ear and mouth to mouth
roots and pedigrees Southerly, a perfectionist uncouth.
Brought up across the nation and transnational dorms
and they ask me, where am I from?

Is it Kerala, wherein my roots lay
or Gujarat, where my blood relations base their stay?
Could it be Tamil Nadu, courtesy my native language
or Delhi, where my birth years were staged and guaged?

Confused, speechless, and a momentary mute
all too jumbled up to be considered, incapable to refute.
Thoughts many, yet a single response at the bay
based on the person’s vibes, black or white, or shades of grey!

The saga continuing over all these years
whether for an introduction or mere acquaintance, call it cheers!
Proud of the ubiquitous culture, vivid and wide
an example to set myself as the nation’s pride.

An Indian I am, to those who don’t follow
an open secret, through a mellow cajole and explanation hollow.
Reared and nurtured through, straight and skewed
would you still want to know where am I from, brewed?

A Day in Zoya’s Life

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club’s CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR.

The colour theme for today’s post is RED.

RED

Zoya Mukherjee woke up with a start. Everything seemed still and dark. As her eyes adjusted to the surroundings, she thought she could she could see a crack of dawn faintly spawning across the horizon. Zoya glanced at the red-colored digits on the clock placed on the bedside table that her mom had brought for her and Parth Mukherjee recently. “No more jhanjhat of struggling to see the time in those Marie Curie-invented radial dials”, she had said while handing the clock to Zoya. Zoya chuckled at the thought of the memory.

As she jerked awake from the past, Zoya glanced at her bedside clock again. 4.10 AM – of course, how could she not expect the dawn to crack at the time, for she was in the city that served the oldest mode of underground transit in India – the Metro, the city that sold juicy roshogullas at one-rupee per piece even today; located on Hooghly, the capital city of West Bengal – Kolkata.

Ten months into her marriage with Parth who was needless to say, a Bengali, Zoya had been waiting for this day. For today was the day she would be getting to witness it for the first time, the much anticipated and spoken about since her arrival at her in-laws, the Sharadiya Pujo, more simply known as Durga Puja. Today was the day when Durga after ten days of her stay will be reunited with her apne. Today was the day She would leave the city and be beckoned to return the next year. Today was the tenth day of the Maha Pujo – the day Goddess Durga is immersed into the holy waters.

The ritual of immersion, as a tradition, was always a dusky-early night affair. As the afternoon sun eclipsed further towards the West, Zoya could feel her mounting exciting pulse. The city blazing with color-blind brightness seemed to have a life of its own. Colorful lights adorned every nook and cranny of the street Zoya stayed in – spread across lamp posts, while a few carved out as idols heights of which seemed to touch the sky. A few others adorned the pandals – the bamboo-like structure that were Durga Maa’s abode during the ten days of her stay, before her immersion. You name it, and you had it!

As per the customs, Zoya donned into the traditional cream shadee bordered in red with golden zari work, ritually gifted to her by Parth. She retraced her maang twice with the red sindoor all the way until the middle of her scalp and tied her key in the red and golden-bordered pallu. Zoya wanted to leave no leaf unturned today, in her gesture to look like a near-perfect putrobodhu, daughter-in-law. Her Bengali Bangles, yet again the sign of a married woman hung elegantly loose near her wrists. There were two of them – Shankha, the white one carved out of sea shells and the plain one made of red corals, Pola. She admired herself in the mirror for a second and realized one last thing – she placed her empty forehead with a large and round red-colored bindi. Zoya joined her shaashuri, mother in law, who was downstairs already, waiting with a plateful of sindoor for sindoor khela. “Bishon shundor laagchhi. Looking very beautiful”, maa said. Zoya smiled in response.

They stepped out onto the streets to join the procession of ladies who had already infected the environment with the celebrations. The low sound made by tongues placed in between the lips, gelled with the constantly rung bells and rhythmic beats of the dhak. Women laughed hysterically, a few frenzied by Maa Kaali’s presence already, while the others in the mood to celebrate the festivity no less than a carnival.

Zoya noticed every lady just like her and maa was decked in the same cream and red-bordered sari and carried with them a plate of sindoor. Once a part of the thick procession, the ladies played sindoor khela, yet another custom, where they strewn the women and streets with the red powder. There was no sense of apna and paraaya, as they all had united for a common purpose today.

As Zoya looked around taking in the surroundings, she saw Her.

Heading, amongst the crowd of women that seemed never-ending, was the ornately carved effigy heading towards Zoya. Zoya at once took in the ferociousness of Her eyes, that seemed so real despite the fact that it was just a statue, a painting by a downtown artiste, and yet they seemed radiantly alive. Wrapped and coated in a red-based attire across Her body, with Her hands spread widely starting from the waist to the top of the open haired-head, Maa Durga looked ragingly beautiful with her red tongue sticking out, slowly making way towards Zoya. The rhythmic beats of the dhak increased, so did Durga Maa’s proximity to Zoya.

The celebration noise started seeming distant and muffled, as Zoya’s eyes focused on Durga’s. She was the strong, the ferocious one. She was one of those bold women, who could command power just by the look in her eyes. She was the one known for her valor and bravery who symbolized victory of Good over Evil – the one who had killed the demon, Mahishasur.

Zoya felt Durga’s eyes boring into hers. As She neared at an arm-length from Zoya, one of the ladies in the procession tripped, her elbow bumping against the backside of Zoya’s head. Zoya lost her balance, but saved herself from falling completely. As she got up, she touched her head, where she had felt something when the lady had tripped. She saw her hands covered with sindoor. She looked up and smiled. Durga Maa had moved on, only to be beckoned to return the next year, as she blessed with Zoya with red.

 

 

Disclaimer: This blog is purely the thoughts of the writer, unintended to hurt anyone’s sentiments, cultural beliefs, and values. The thoughts and incidents established herein are a combination of facts and fiction.

Kesar, Halloween, Oranges are the Flavors Forgot

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club’s CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of September to the 7th of September.

The colour theme for today’s post is ORANGE.

ORANGE 2

The color of sunrise, the color of hope
as bright as ever, similar to the White of the Roman Pope.
Call it a fancy or a fetish
wardrobe once filled with a UCB tee and sandals relished.

The color of autumn, the color of maple leaves
from the warmth of the summer to the onset of snowy heaves.
Pumpkins and peaches not so favorites
however enjoyed, Rasna and Gold Spot back in the ages.

The color of sunset, dusky, sky-streaked, and bold
shades ranging from peach, amber, tangerine to gold.
Not to pull along further, or give the impression of a drag
oh, but how could one forget the topmost color of the Indian national flag?!

M.A.N.J.A.L.

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club’s CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of September to the 7th of September.

The colour theme for today’s post is YELLOW.

GREEN_YELLOW

(Part 2 of 2)

Manjal – An Ayurveda known for its incomparable medicinal properties, a must-have in a vettrilai-paakku tray, Sakthivel’s manja-chevappu azhagi, Pachai’s better half today.

It was one of those unknowingly conspicuous moments in the three-day trip, when she saw and had the urge to have bananas. She asked her newly acquainted friend (not Pachai) to buy a few, as she had left her wallet in the vehicle. The way she was stared at, at the next instant; reactions were a mixture of uncovered laughter, consciousness (mind-voice – did I hear her right?), bananas…really!? She however, stood rooted to her spot and urged her friend to buy it. Words fall short to describe the amount to which this incident was elevated soon after the trip. Sportive that she was, she took it in the good stride, wherein she got christened Yellow.

Things moved at a systematic pace between Pachai and Manjal after that (and a few more) trip(s), when they decided to be together. Soon after, Pachai popped the question or should I say popped the statement!

…I can’t keep myself from thinking about you. I want this to be a lifetime relationship. You are more than anything else in this world. It is how much I value this relationship…

It was like a bubble burst for Manjal for she was in the stage that seemed to tether between he-loves-me, he-loves-me-not, does-he, or does-he-not. However, to Pachai, adequately inexpressive that he was, the relationship already indicated this-is-it; there is nothing more to wait for.

Manjal’s heart raced, her brain hemorrhaged, her senses froze, and god alone knows what else not happened to her. Thoughts at the speed of zillion per nanosecond spawned within her. Is this it? Is this THE guy? Or am I supposed to wait? May be he IS the guy, but isn’t it going too fast? Do I need to slow him down? Or take my time? Will he run away? Is this THE sign? Is it REALLY HIM?!

After a decent bit of contemplation, jurisdiction, discussion, and conviction, the She-said-Yes melodrama followed. The proceedings that followed were blurred, as the arrows kept shooting forward at an unkept speed. Spoke to parents → Parents met the Girl → Parents met the Boy → Parents met Parents (Long process – this parents thing, right? Even I felt so!) → Conditions applied → Fixed dates → Chat mangni pat byaah!

Pachai and Manjal, thus, became PachaiManjal.

P.A.C.H.A.I.

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club’s CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of September to the 7th of September.

The colour theme for today’s post is GREEN.

GREEN_YELLOWGreenery…lush, plush, and vast acres of greenery…

Nah! I plan to talk about something more precious and personal when it comes to this color. For this is one of the two colors that connects me deep down my memory lane (to the point of digging at times) to THE priceless valuable I will cherish this lifetime. A story of two mindlessly aberrant souls who understood each other from the moment they met (literally), who did nothing but respect each other’s personality contrasts galore, the two nuts weirdly, deeply, and madly in love who decided to get married in the eighth month of knowing each other.

This story is split in to two parts: Part One – Green, Part Two (Conclusion) – Yellow.

It had been almost nine months since I came to Chennai when I got introduced to my first social circle. Life, for a mix-breed as me (too complicated to explain…maybe some other time), was proving slightly tough in the initial few months. Barely compatible with the language, not so good living areas/ roommates (sometimes a mix of both), and hardly exposed to the city surroundings. However, the one positivity that kept me going was my job, proving to be my strength then and allowing me to drown in it. While I got introduced to this non-profit organization that worked on planning trips, treks, and other activities for social causes after six months, I signed up for my first trip. It was a three-day trip in a gang of thirty-five (and about time too I made some friends).

That’s the trip I met Him.

Oddly enough, the first thing I noticed about him was not his physique, not his smile, or any of the typical features. It was the lines on his nose! You must think I’m a weirdo but trust me, I’m not lying. We barely spoke, but smiled (rather laughed) whenever we saw each other. It was a strangely positive bond that connected us – our easy smile. The way we seemed to laugh over everything and nothing, made our friends feel as though they were missing something. (Until date, we have tried explaining there is nothing in particular we are laughing about!)

Day two of the trip – we visited a waterfall. The flow was so tremendously intense that no words could describe the force. While I swayed and made my way through the moss-inflicted rocks to stand beneath the waterfall, I saw a fluorescent green jerseyed-hand stretch towards me and take my hand to help me jump from that rock to this. And there I was, right underneath the water flow. I kept screaming because of the force, and everyone else enjoying the waterfall shooed me away, for I was spoiling their fun! As lunch awaited us after a few miles of trekking, we started on our way back. On the way, people kept calling Pachai. I turned at one point and saw – the same guy who had pulled me beneath the waterfall and, now that I could see in the broad daylight, was wearing a fluorescent green Adidas jersey. My curiosity got the better of me and I asked couple of his friends, “Why do you guys call him Pachai”? They kept telling me they didn’t know the exact origination (or did they have their own reason to call him that!) It so happens (I figured later), pachai happens to be his favorite color and the rest he didn’t know (the logic beyond why they called him that!). I was only too happy to oblige like a dumbass (now that I think of it) and in went Pachai in my memory, in my phone book, in my friend’s list, and popularized in my social circles.

Brown: One of the Most Commonly Overlooked Colors

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club’s CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of September to the 7th of September.

The colour theme for today’s post is BROWN.

BROWN

If I were to close my eyes and think of my instantaneous reaction to BROWN without giving a split-second thought, it would probably be yuck! However, when I sit back and think (my never-ending thoughts starting to drool after a while), I realize it is the one of the Most Commonly Overlooked colors in one’s daily life.

Read on the story of an old man, a father-in-law and a grandfather, who is completely disconnected from the urbanites’ way of life by choice (does that mean lesser OR more scope for associating with brown?).

It had rained last night. My other senses may deceive me as I become older, but definitely not my nose. I could smell the damp earth, which otherwise feels quite divided. When it rains the sand, the mud, and the soil particles bind together with the rain water so tightly that you feel the ground’s rare unity when you’re used to walking bare-naked-feet. This morning, as I woke up from my chaarpai, a structure of jute ropes supported by wooden legs on four sides, I knew it. Before I could even rest my feet on the damp earth I could smell the infectious wet soil, my Mother Earth, whom I knew so well by now.

My bahu heard me wake up. While she helped me fill water from the earthen matka, she asked me, “Babuji, chai banaun?” I nodded and brushed my teeth with this off-lately discovered weird object (where is the world headed to!?) with a stick-like structure to hold and short straws that stuck in between the teeth (“Daadu, these are called bristles, through which you can clean your tobacco-stained teeth and this…is a tooth brush”, my grandson told me.) Anyway, I found it weird; I was more comfortable with my twig-like dantmanjan which I could keep chewing for as long as I wanted. And ah, the smell of those twigs…

As my bahu handed me my chai, I caught up with my friends just like any other morning. They extended as far as I knew, as I would keep hearing them from varying lengths. “Good morning”, I said. All remained still. I tried again after a couple of minutes. One of them gave a slight nod, for I felt the breeze caress my face. The trees of varying types, heights, and breadths (whose existence were rooted primarily because of the muddy roots and secondarily due to the barks), were my usual companions in the mornings while I had my tea. After a quick chat, I bade them goodbye and sat to read my book for a while – the heavy chocolate-colored leather-bound book that my grandson had gifted. “Daadu, it’s your favorite color – chocolate-colored cover with cookie-colored pages.” He knew despite my old age, I used to turn into an absolute junkie when it came to chocolates and biscuits, especially Parle-G! (Just like the toothbrush, I guess cookie is the latest invention…whatever happened to biscuits??) The moment I opened the book, I knew this was it – the one that I was looking and waiting for, all this while. I was so happy and proud; I hugged my grandson tight and said, “Shabaash mere bachhe! Ja, isi baat par chocolate khakar aa”, and gave him a ten-rupee note.

As the produce of potatoes was in abundance around our area and also a solution for bahu’s convenience (ek din mein kitna kaam karegi bichaari?), my lunch and dinner predominantly used to comprise of two chapattis and unpeeled potatoes cooked after mincing into pieces. After a quick nap, I sit with my leather-bound book yet again while bahu makes me a cup of piping hot coffee before going off to attend her set of evening chores. I need a shot of caffeine every morning and evening, and prefer not diverting from it.

Dinner is usually the most subdued affair. After a quick supper of two chapattis and unpeeled potatoes, I like to dedicate the rest of my evenings (sometimes even early mornings without my realization) to my book. The book that my grandson gifted to me so dearly, inscribed in Braille.

A Page taken from Indigo’s Diary

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club’s CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR each day starting 1st of September to the 7th of September.

The colour theme for today’s post is INDIGO.

INDIGO 4 I am not sure how many out there are familiar with my shade variant, thanks to the most popular cousin in my family tree, Blue. If you were to visualize me independently, I’d perhaps rather proudly describe myself as the richest shade in the Blue family tree; the next-closest shade to me being most likely my Uncle Black. Put in layman’s terms, I’m possibly the darkest shade of Blue you will come across. In fact, to the few mortals out there who believe in the mantra color ignorance-is-bliss, I’m often mistaken to be Uncle Black; I don’t mind it nonetheless, as this comparison feels closer-to-home than being compared to Blue.

Prejudiced to be the color associated with boys, Blue even otherwise, is very popular in the family. If the truth be spoken out loud, there are innumerable kuppai-maadhiri references that can be quoted when my relatives get to show off their prominence. Starting with the kid there is the innocent Baby Blue, clear Sky Blue, watery Aquamarine, the mature and bright Turquoise, the funky Denim (I like her!), the deeply-lost-in-thought Sea Blue (dilemmatic till date if the correct reference for sea water is blue or green!), one of my closest and much-liked Uncles, Navy Blue, then there is me.

I know that at this point, you’re probably feeling that I despise being called a part of the Blue family tree. To be honest and frank, I don’t hate or dislike being a part of the Neel clan. Call it my insecurity or the lack of opportunity to get to be in the limelight – I often feel overshadowed by my relatives who, almost at all times, are so blinded by the spotlight that they refuse to move their rear once there! Take the rainbow for that matter – the color band is incomplete without the ‘I’ and yet I’m found sandwiched between my two relatives – Violet (they are distant relatives) and Blue (will you stop stalking me!?).

I mean, hello! Even I have some prominence out there when it comes to me, myself, and I. To name a few – I mean a chunk of me-time when someone decides to take a stroll under the twilight skies, a reflection of me-thoughts when they get lost starting at the depths of the ocean, the each-to-their-own reaction when they see the whale, the untouchably bright and bottommost part of a candle flame just before I blend with my dear Uncle Black. A niche where they get to pick clothes in my name, Deep Indigo, and why, I have also touched the skies in the recent times, when the lesser mundane decided to come up with an airline dedication – IndiGO!