Cultural bows , vows or blows…blowing my nose
The past few weeks have been telling on my nerves and body. First I would like to target the weather. Cold/winter/grey skies have never been appreciated by me except in poems/paintings. An unexpected indisposition at home set the ball rolling which apparently affected near and dear. This ‘indisposition’ silently endured by my husband (the victim) for over a month.
To begin the ordeal of putting it in words ,one needs strong nerves to bear cultural shocks but when the year begins with a physical shock (accident mentioned above) the following shocks are not borne by a debilitating body. One learns from the laws of nature when one leaf falls it gives way for a new leaf. This new leaf appears after the rough weather . But that does not augur well for the other aging leaves. All will fall one by one sooner or later.
Marriage by night
The marriage of a friend’s daughter in all splendor was an honour to attend and participate. But the more amazing part of the event was to see a group of hand-picked friends cutely dressed forming the centre piece of the venue. And surprisingly they were from ‘ Dhanbad’ , of course now re-located in different parts of India after marriage. Their multi-cultured face(t)s became effervescently evident. I wondered and swallowed hard due to a parched throat.
The surprise ‘element’ being ‘Dhanbad’ as I was mentally absorbed with Adiga’s book The White Tiger, where the protagonist too hails from Dhanbad (Laxmangarh). No offence. Just tried to fathom ’Vikas’ I mean development in India till date. But Adiga painted this character on the lower rungs of society , I felt I was hovering with a more genteel and sophisticated crowd. Some consolation.
Now like all weddings these days ,this was an inter-regional marriage—Punjabi/Tamil pair, the couple. No no do not rush to Chennai. The groom hailed from NCR and the bride from Delhi. She was (the bride) a coy, cheerful and she looked hardly ruffled about an imminent cultural exchange. But the phrase ‘cultural exchange’ affected my immune system. All Punjabi marriages (North Indians) take place after sunset below a starry sky , Wow ! romantic only if it was not in winter. So the scope for many misgivings, mismatches or mistakes are patched with darkness. Don’t get me wrong! Oh! not again the word ‘darkness’(as in Adiga’s novel) crops up again.
The Neem tree in the open air , an ambience best suited for a courtyard in the foreground of a mansion. The tree sheltered a ‘mandap’ for the ‘pheras’. Though I stood witness under a thick branch, the neem tree branch could not help wrapping me with a cold hug of the winter air. Eyes , mine and those of the wedding guests kept popping out, to get a glimpse of the couple. All went well. I reached home but got laid up with a nasty cold that pursues a high temperature and pampers a blocked nose. Bounties you earn from winter outings. God bless the couple!
Mat O’Fa guest
The week that followed only permitted a rigorous cleaning schedule to welcome a relative from the US. This included cleaning bathrooms, kitchen shelves, furniture, bedroom furniture et al; because he is a cleanliness freak. To claim a roundtrip flight that was ‘ favouring’ desirable and undesirable destinations from his benevolent office, the man sets out on a lavish trip. This ‘compulsive’ visitor will dole out goodies on arrival. But when we offer some to him he calls it mollycoddling. Praise the arrogance of an American visitor/ tourist.....er.
The sockets supporting my bones in the limbs do look healthy but feel fagged out in earnest as never do I enjoy being in between the wheels of a hover-board ( You know wheels on the left & wheels on the right with you in the centre) .This position demands speed and smooth sailing whereby you must vacillate efficiently for the rider to avoid a trip up performance.
I cannot help but remember a line towards the end of the novel by Adiga for all drinkers of tea and coffee. In the north of India everyone drinks tea even the poor and in the south everyone drinks coffee even the poor.The reason for quoting these beverages--- we accept all as humans so no point discerning ,as long as the mediating force forms the fulcrum.Looking for a concoction to appease taste.
Plum in the pudding
Many may not savour the pudding at my age but I was endowed with a sweet tooth. Even though I take precautions to consume less sweets the temptations to do window shopping at a sweet shop will always be cherished. One such pudding which required no window shopping was an earnest desire to meet a schoolmate after 35 years. I did manage to travel almost 100 kms all by myself to meet Meena.
Meena is venturing gracefully into the autumn of her life with less troubles, lesser bickering and even lesser ambitions. She who tottered from one phase to another of life acquiring (academic) degrees and bringing up a family , she felt elated at every achievement. Today she is worldly wise and claims to be a sought after plum in the family pudding, much better than being a will- o’- the wisp.
I fell for her usual throaty laugh and that warm hug when we met.