Sunday, October 30, 2011

Being Multicultural

Growing up in Bombay, you take so many things for granted. Especially the food. And the people.

Only when i left Bombay did i realise how homogenous it is, how so many different cultures co-exist seamlessly. I never appreciated the fact that growing up in Bombay gave me an exposure to so many languages, foods and people. When i see the stereotypes that people not from Bombay live with, i have this urge to shake them and tell to not believe in what TV portrays. No, not all gujjus talk like that, just like not all their meals consist of thepla and dhokla. And no, parsis are not foreigners. And i may be marwari, but i dont go around calling people bhai sa and bhabhi sa. There is more to everyone and everything than tv and movies show. And Bombay allows you to be a part of that - of that tolerance and welcoming attitude (i'm not talking of politically driven agendas here, but of the common man in the local train).

So used to this multicultural living i am, that i find myself surprised when people don't know what dhaansak is or don't know how to make poha. It's also very surprising that the first thing people do on meeting/hearing about someone is to categorize them as belonging to a certain community and then acting on stereotypical assumptions. In Bombay, this difference in cultural background is just another opportunity to try new foods and celebrate yet another festival. Yes, the stereotypes exist, but just as a round of jokes. So christmas is about my friend's mum's whiskey cake and yummy marzipan sweets while Eid is about going to Mohd.Ali road and trying out everything (something i can't wait to do, now that i'm a meat eater). And come Navroze, all i can think of is caramel custard. My maharashtrian friends are good for yummy prawn curry and the gujjus keep me happy with enough junk food to last me a lifetime. Also, some of the most generous people i've known are sindhis and marwaris. And no, the sindhis dont walk around with a stash of papad in their pockets. 

Today, i'm as comfortable singing Christmas carols as i am humming garba songs. I enjoy roadside anda bhurji as much as i do fancy poached eggs at a popular brunch outlet. I'm perfectly at ease travelling in a local train or bus as i am driving somewhere in a fancy car. Everyday is a learning opportunity, new people, new foods, new cuss words.

And so Bombay may be crowded, polluted, noisy and generally unlivable to an outsider. But for me, it's the best thing that could have happened. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Of Diwali and Deja vu.

I started typing out what i was feeling earlier today. And then i realised i've already written exactly what i wanted to. 2 years back. Here

Enjoy the festivities and the food ya'll. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Of Sweaters and Scarves

I'm a Bombay girl. Winters for us mean a much awaited reprise from the stiffling heat and humidity, without it being cold in the true sense. So convinced we are that it doesn't get cold cold in Bombay,  that even when it did go sub 15 deg Celsius one year, no one really understood how to dress warm, wearing more fashion appropriate winter wear as opposed to functional ones. What? You know it's true. Those flimsy things arent really jackets you know. 

Then i got married to a Shimla boy. And learnt, for the first time, how to dress warm. I also finally figured out how women wear sweaters over kurtas and sarees  - when it's really cold, you stop caring about how you look and just want to stay warm. And then, as if the universe was making up for the all the time i spent in Bombay with fake winters, i got to experience two winters in Rajasthan - the cold making up for the terrible summers there. And suddenly, a whole new section in apparel was open to me now - winter wear. Heavy coats, jackets, sweaters, mufflers, wraps. I could buy them without any guilt and questions of where would i get to wear them (an important consideration, the guilt). I even (finally) bought a pair of boots that i could wear without worrying about the heat rotting my feet (as is very likely to happen in the mugginess of Bombay). 

Anyway. We're in Pune now, where the winters are moderate. Definitely no need for heavy winter coats and brightly coloured mufflers knotted in place. But does that stop the winter shopping? For anyone else, maybe. Not for me. I can still go into a shop and browse through silk scarves and brightly coloured sweaters, knowing that, wherever the fauj might send us, we'll always have Shimla. 

I've been here a day, and even with my extremities already cold (its a condition i shall discuss soon), i'm smug. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Of Compression.

One of the hazards of marrying a fauji is the nomadic lifestyle. Everything you buy (that is not clothes)  has to be considered in terms a) how easy is it to pack and transport and (b) whether it will survive a cross-country journey in a rickety truck. This makes it a tad bit difficult when eyeing glass stuff or really gorgeous but delicate things that wont last even one move (like that awesome handcrafted miniature ship, complete with sails and stuff, but that's another post altogether). But glass and the like are not the only things difficult to move. Books are. Especially if you own a couple of trunkfulls of them. Ever tried moving a trunk that had only books in it? It's akin to moving a large boulder (as i learnt the hard way), done only at personal risk and little care for your back. Also, it's near impossible to move. So what do you do? You could distribute the books over all your various trunks. But that has its own problems which i'll talk about some other time. Or you could do what we did - cartons. Bubblewrap inside and out. Except that we ended up with some 9 cartons of books, 8 of which are still waiting to be opened (owing to several factors not entirely in our control). But considering our experience with the one carton of books that was opened (as well almost another carton full that emerged from trunks along with the ones we've bought in the past few months), we can't help be glad the bulk of our books are still packed away. 

Before you gasp and call us boors, hear me out ok. 

In the last 6 months we've moved 4 houses. And with every move, at least one car trip to and fro from the old to the new house has been entirely dedicated to our books. Do you know how tiring it is climbing up and down stairs with armfulls of books and loading/unloading them? Especially if you love them and are loath to toss them around without a care? The last time we had to do this (yesterday), we finally put all the books in a big drum sized bucket and heaved it up to the new house. This is when the Fellow finally decided upon something we've been unsure about (and i'm still not entirely convinced, no matter how tired i am of balancing book towers as i try to open the car door single handed) - the Kindle. He has now come to the conclusion that Kindles (and other e-book readers) were designed for faujis. After lugging about one-eighth of our books around four houses (along with the unopened cartons, dont you forget), the man has finally had it with hardcopies and is now looking forward to his entire collection weighing in at a few hundred grams. And when i tell you that he even mentioned both of us with our Kindles, you'll know how serious he is. 

But for now, i'm holding onto my paperbacks (vehemently) and figuring out where best to get bookshelves installed in the new house. We'll have this discussion when we  have to move houses again. Till then, lead me to Flipkart someone. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

So Much To Say

You know how too many cooks spoil the broth? Yeah. Too many things to talk about ruin your blog.  I have so much to say and so many things to vent/opine about that i can't decide what to write about and then end up just cussing under my breath and glaring at everyone, whilst playing Bejewelled on my phone. What? It's addictive. And really brainless. 

So let's get chronological. 

Week-long holiday happened in Singapore with the Fellow. Stayed with the sister and brotherinlaw and fed them aloo parathas. Yes, i did the whole big sister thing. I'm nice like that. Also, brought in the 28th birthday there, spending the entire day at Universal Studios, screaming my way through roller-coasters (which i was dragged onto by the unfeeling husband and unconcerned sister). But i got some brilliant strawberry pannacotta for lunch, so yay! Apart from that, lots of walking around Singapore happened - allowing me guilt-free hogging at every meal (a good thing considering how awesome the food was). Shopping happened too - bulk of it at Ikea (duh) and we were probably the only people to enter Mustafa and not walk out with a TV. No really. 2 golf sets, yes. But no TV. 
All in all, a good vacation. I would put up photos, but those have been jinxed. Ever since we've come back, the computer has been giving up on me, resulting in a motherboard and a harddisk replacement. Thankfully, in an act of supreme inefficiency, i didn't delete the photos from the camera after transfer and so i'm not too worried about losing them. 

Good News (the really good types)
So, the last few months of my life had been totally preoccupied with the one question that plagues a fauji wife - Where are we moving to next. Yes. Even though we'd been in Pune only a few months, another move was on the horizon. Unfair? Tell me about it. Anyhoo. To cut a long story short, after months of stress, uncertainty and new ulcers, just as we returned home from Singapore, we were informed that we get to stay in Pune. Yipeeeee! The perfect ending to a fantastic holiday the Fellow says. 

The Fellow found a fat caterpillar on the ground and i brought it home. Why? Because it was the kind that would become a butterfly some day. I put it in a jar and made holes for air. I also put leaves in it and checked up on it every 15 mins to check whether it was alive. It was. And totally hyperactive. Or it was just looking for an escape route. Why do i say that? Because 2 days later, the Fellow found it in the computer room, a whole house away from where i'd left the jar in the kitchen. Here's what i think happened - the jar was on the window sill and the lid (kept loosely on) blew off in the strong winds that were happening. And the wiley caterpillar ran for it. Sadly, his sad story touched something in the Fellow's heart and he decided to let it go in the wilderness that is our neighbour's garden. Sigh. The End.

Since i'm trying to become a *young entrepreneur*, trips to Bombay have to be oft made. Not that i'm complaining. But what was to be a couple of days has become a week and a half. Thankfully, this time round, i got work done. Also suleimani chai happened at Prithvi with two boys and a girl (and a really photogenic old man with a flute). Movie also happened with a friend i've known since we were 12 and i think he called me stubborn and impossible more than once during the evening. We also got wet in the unannounced and torrential rain that happened in Bombay on Wednesday evening. Haan, and the sister arrived on her way to Jaipur for her first karva chauth, but that's another story all together. 

Moving Houses
I'm writing about this primarily because i'm not doing it. Heeheehee. Yes ladies and gentlemen. The Fellow, in an act worthy of Superman, has shifted houses in 3 hours, trunks and potted plants included. All i have to do now is locate my stuff under all the mess that is bound to be the new place (you think he'll take the hint  and clean up? Or too much to ask?) Anyway. Whatever it might be, i was spared the supreme torture of moving and i'll be eternally (read: a couple of days) grateful to him for that. 

Next week we leave for Shimla where home and the inlaws (mine) await us. We haven't been there in the longest time and i'm totally looking forward to piping hot tomato soup and fresh french fries on Mall road. What? So i like food. Not like the Fellow isnt waiting to get his teeth into his favourite momos and chocolate pastries there. So, family time awaits us, and like i promised a pint sized genius yesterday, i'm going to try blog more while there, so maybe some productivity shall happen too. 

Phew. That was a long and totally random post. If you're reading this, remind me to send you a thank you note :)