I am back from a very long, awesome in parts, unbelievably hectic in parts, full of love and happiness in parts and full of awkwardness in parts vacation. The best part about visiting one’s “native place” (thanks to Santosh Desai and his masterpiece, Mother Pious Lady, expect a lot of stereotypical words from my small town past that I don’t usually use. Also, I recommend the book to anyone who grew up in India, small town/ big city notwithstanding.) that every time you are on the move, you are headed home. And ending the vacation is as much looked forward to as starting it.
If I had to blog every time I thought “man this HAS to go on the blog”, you would have received many boring mundane updates. I am not saying this one will not be any of those. But at least you will have to suffer this just once.
Blood is way thicker than water. But there will always be some people in your blood line (or extended khandaan in some way) who will let you down and not be apologetic about it. You can choose to be the smaller person and get all mean and sensitive about it, or you can forgive (but never, ever forget) and be the bigger person at the table (or the Chhath Ghaat for that matter). The fact that I have begun to choose the second option speaks volumes about my growth as opposed to someone a generation older and many generations stupider than me. Oh yes, when I do a good thing, I know it and I say it. I am not quite the “neki kar dariya mein daal” type, and I will never be.
There is something very warm and comforting about belonging with all your heart, to two different worlds. Because while one is made of unbelievable independence and “freedom from the past” (in Santosh Desai speak) and happiness that is of your own making, the other has a lot of high decibels of noise, music, love, and laughter that is never going away.
Hate all you want, but everyone has a reason to be the way they are. It could be their past, their conditioning, their current state of mind, or simply their point of view. If you don’t understand it, at least don’t fret over it. It rarely comes back to haunt you when you are back in your world.
It is really not important for you to look after everyone’s moodswings because believe it or not, most people are adults and can take care of themselves mighty well.
When you come from where I do, people WILL ask questions. Not married? Don’t pray? Not even thinking about kids yet (:O)? Don’t wear glass bangles ever? Doesn’t your sindoor ever show on your head? Why do you look like a class 12 student still (and not in a good way)? Eat rice everyday, eh? Was this really an arranged marriage? (What can I say except thank you?) You can choose to answer their questions very sincerely and honestly at the risk of offending a lot of people or you can smile and divert their attention or you can joke about yourself and laugh heartily. I prefer the last option for most part, because trust me, sometimes all you need is a sense of humour to get by!
No matter how prying your relatives get, you will end up loving most of them. There is no getting away from that!
The food. Oh the food. The palak puris, kheer, aalu gobhis, pulao, dahi bada, rasgullas, mutton curry, chicken curry, baked vegetables, daal-bhaat- parwal bhujiya. I have accepted that I am never getting that level of awesomeness in the food I get in my own home, ever. Pure, unapologetic, uncontrolled debauchery without a drop of a intoxication – it’s something else I tell you!
I have been brought up in a very gender neutral environment. I have never really understood feminism and for most part, I have mocked the million blogs on feminism that I have read in the last few years. I always thought people overreact when they write paragraphs after paragraphs about women’s rights. I was wrong. There is still a huge section of this society that believes in inequality of men and women and trying to change them in any way will only get eyeballs rolling. Having said that, I have distributed my number like an insurance salesperson on this trip, asking young girls to call me if there are any attempts made to get them married off before they are ready for it. I can only hope they never have to use it.
There is a lot changing in Bihar and Jharkhand right now – new malls, multiplexes, thousands of kilometers of highways and good roads, showrooms of premium brands, IIT Patna, IIM Ranchi, Games Village, Instant Sattu Drinks and the like. I got out of Patna at a time when it was not safe for women to venture out in the neighbourhood market without an escort – that has completely changed now. There is a general positivity I noticed in Patna this time, with real estate prices going up (the kind of measures we have for development!) etc. I didn’t have enough time to figure out if this big change includes things that really matter. But I do know that it is a good start.
It is not that people in big cities are bad, but people in small towns are just nicer and have the time to show it too. A small example – I walked into a pharmacy to buy some medicines for my sore throat and bad cold, and a doctor, out on an evening walk, gave me some free consultation and got the pharmacist to give me just the medicines I needed. I probably don’t have time in Bangalore to notice this kind of general niceness, or people don’t have the time to act on their need to be nice to strangers. But it was good knowing there are places where such things still happen.
When you come from where I do, having a sibling who has been brought up with the same values as you, really, really helps. I can’t thank god enough for my baby sister.
There is something supremely awesome about people speaking in Hindi all around you – I miss it here in Bangalore because the little Hindi I hear here is not that kind that I am used to.
My religion is personal to a point where most people wouldn’t understand it. The religious would think I am not doing enough, the atheists might see my prayers as a sign of hypocrisy. I cannot explain it – I don’t know how to. I just know that it is good to believe in something that is beyond your control. I don’t know when I disassociated myself from everything that I don’t “get” about my religion – blind faith, babas, guru jis, noise, and the constant need to be vocal when you think about God – and I still choose to have faith. It is not atheism, and it is not just a matter of habit. It works for me and it doesn’t have to work for anyone else.
I loved every bit of my vacation – even the awkward ones. It wouldn’t have been a real hometown sojourn without them. But boy am I glad to be back! I am so going back again, but I need a couple of holidays in the hills, at least 52 weekends, and a whole lot of me time before I am ready to venture “home” again and deal with the insane decibels of concern, laughter and love. A decade of the best of both worlds – what more could I ask for!