Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Diwali time.....Let the fun begins

We have been very busy for last couple of days getting ready for Diwali. It is one festival which is hugely celebrated in India by everyone. Diwali brings back all the fun childhood memories. The days of October/ November when we used to have cool mornings and strong 'October heat' in the afternoon. The making of special Diwali FaraL (special sweets and savories made on this occasion), the making of mud forts, school holidays, greeting relatives, having firecrackers and most importantly getting new outfit. I always looked forward to Diwali as I used to get new outfit on this occasion. It was one festival when everyone was in joyous and happy mood. No matter how stressed your life is otherwise, during Diwali season we celebrated what we had, we celebrated all the good things we have, we celebrated life. This year having aai-baba with us makes it more meaningful. It is them because of whom we are who we are. So, celebrating this special festival with them is very satisfying. Get togethers, calling relatives back home, eating sweets and being thankful for what we are is on cards.

On this special occasion, I wish you all a very happy Diwali. May this festive season bring the 'good' in all of us and may we embrace our lives with passion and happiness. Live like there is no tomorrow and dance like no one is watching. Happy Diwali !!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall is here….

It’s been a while that I wrote. Well, it’s more than a while – 2 months and no scrambling of words. That’s not good. As I said earlier, writing is extremely therapeutic for me. This passion of mine which started with Marathi writing at the age of 6 or 7 has been a constant source of joy and stress buster. Life happens, we meet people, we emote, we react, we exist – all of this I see it from a writer’s perspective and try to capture it using words. English writing or reading was never ‘my’ thing. I sucked at writing in English and ran away from reading English literature. But I am trying…for a change :)

Last 2 months went by very fast with aai-baba’s visit and seeing more of this beautiful country with them. This time they got to experience the whole family together after a long time. Sheetal and I are in the same city after almost 10 years or so. What more joy parents can have than to see their kids in the same city sharing the bond of love and affection (and at times fights too). I love having my sis in town. Time spent with your siblings is a special one. It brings back all the fun memories that you shared while growing up. The fights, the funny moments, the not so favorite aunts and uncles – everything. Last 2 months, we were engrossed in pure family fun. Taking a week long trip to west (LA and Vegas) was unforgettable moment. Mom loved Vegas glamour and dad thought million dollar houses in LA were worth visiting. Amit and I got to spend quality time with our love Dhruv, meet our friends Shailesh and Parind from LA and enjoy our favorite sin city again. :) Life was good. Last week we had my Aatya (dad’s sis) and her husband visiting us from Atlanta. It’s amazing how you start understanding your relatives to a completely different level as a grown up person vs. when you were a kid. You start understanding some of their decisions and the rationale behind those decisions. We took them to our favorite city - Chicago. Going to Chicago gives me same joy as I used to get as a kid after receiving a new outfit on Diwali - exclusively once a year affair and a complete bragging opportunity to friends. My Chicago trips are similar – although not too far from us, it only is a once a year affair and then when I come back from the deep dish Pizza city, I am bragging about the ‘coolness’ of it to everyone I know. Visit to Chicago makes me lighter, happier and sexier. I forget life’s stress when I am visiting this city of ‘Lake Michigan’. I see and experience life everywhere in this city. Strolling in downtown, shopping on Michigan Avenue, observing the trendy, hip people with their designer clothes and million dollar attitude, experiencing little India on Devon street – I take it all and love it all. It is a city with Midwestern roots that has achievements above the urban heights – figuratively and literally. If ‘Apple’ is the fruit of New York city, I think ‘Plum’ should be the fruit of Chicago – equally stylish but very earthy. In downtown Chicago, we made a quick stop to meet our friends Neha and Bhupi – a friendship that began with Amit but nurtured through facebook connection of me and Neha. I love facebook. It got me connected to so many new friends and helped me grow old friendships. This was only second time I met Neha, but we got instantly connected. I love this new generation of Indian women – they know what they want, they are ready to make sacrifices to achieve it and they are unapologetic about their cooking skills or any other stereotypical skill attached to women, especially Indian women. They will get tattoo on their navel with the same passion as they will have Mehendi (henna) on their hand. They might make nontraditional life choices and they are not afraid to talk about it. Within 10 minutes of our meeting, Neha told my parents and my aunt and uncle how theirs is an inter-cast marriage - she and her husband are from different castes. No shame, no guilt, no regrets or no pride – just the facts. You get what you see – there is no hidden agenda. Take it or leave it. I love that. For long, Indian women did not have the luxury of speaking their mind or making life choices of their preference. It was always determined by someone else – either society, their family or ‘men’ in the house. That evening while driving back from Chicago I got to think – didn’t women of my mom’s generation felt the same way or had same dreams and aspirations as women of today’s? I think they did. They felt same way but they did not have enough power to raise their voice. Their education, their career, their dreams was never a priority and there was no other option than sucking it all up. They were trained to believe that their role is to please a man – in all aspects and at any cost. Their role is to serve and cater to male ego, our very own ‘desi’ male ego. It starts with your father, brother, husband and then your son. It is refreshing to see that new generation of Indian women are getting out of that rut hole. They see their husband as equal partner, a good friend and a great confidante. They believe in their capabilities and are honest to talk about their dreams, feelings and frustrations. They make life choices on their own and are happy with it. Just the GDP growth can never be and should not be the sign of any society’s progress. Materialistic growth does not guarantee equal access of opportunities for all and honor for equal human rights. It is this change in mindset that define how progressive a society is- because only in such progressive mindsets we can have best and brightest minds working towards progress. It is only through such attitudes we can tap into talents of everyone and make real progress.

Fall is here and so is Diwali – hugely celebrated Indian festival of lights. We all are getting excited to welcome Diwali with content mind and uplifting spirits. In this Fall season, let the biases and stereotypes we have amongst us fall behind and we move towards more just, more equal and more progressive mindset and thus society. Happy Fall….