Happy Diwali

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Be grateful… I never reply to Diwali wishes and hardly ever wish. No, I am not being rebellious… it is pure laziness. I have always been home during Diwali or atleast with parents. A lot of times we would have only 2 days off in school and final exams would be near. My school term was from March to November- due to extreme winters in Mt Abu and Christmas. The nuns wanted to celebrate X’Mas without nuisance and so they changed the school term.

Anyway, my parents were always around for Diwali except once… when I had joined the boarding. Parents sent loads of fire crackers for sis and me. While bursting them, 1 cracker went hay wire and almost hurt a kid. The nuns confiscated our crackers and no amount of begging and pleading helped. I hate all nuns… my hatred for them deserves a separate post altogether.
In the last 3 years, 2 Diwalis have been spent in Goa and 1 in Mumbai. I would have loved to go to Goa this year too. I went home instead after 3 years. Diwali has never been a happy one…. I won’t get into the details. I prefer Holi to Diwali. This time it was extremely low key ‘coz of my maternal granny’s death last month (maybe a separate post on that). Even on Diwali day I didn’t know it was Diwali and I realized about New Year too late.
In Gujarat, the 4th day is celebrated as New Year… everyone wakes up early, wears new clothes, decorates the home, lays out delicacies like namkeen, sweets, dry fruits etc. People go to each other’s houses and wish them. Generally, we would receive guests till afternoon and visit others in the evening. We would try and meet everyone… those we could not meet on the same day, we would visit sometime during the week. It was in Manipal I realized that New Year is a Gujju tradition. People outside do not follow it.
There was so much that I did at home:
  • I felt like I had never gone… my absence was visible on the walls… No, I never cleaned them or anything… but the effect my leaving had on the house residents was visible in their neglect
  • The first day I asked mom to cook besan ki sabji… which I could not make well last time I tried. I will give the recipe some other time… it is somewhat like ghatte… but better. Ghatte has only besan… while this veg has onions, anardana, chillies etc.
  • I took all the recipes I wanted. We wanted to make cheesecake but there was no time
  • I downloaded ZNMD and made my parents watch it… they were unimpressed
  • I downloaded Khuda Ke Liye since my dad liked Bol
  • Drove dad’s Manza and realized how smooth it was… now, craving for a car like that. He took me through the empty road and wanted me to drive at 20 kmph in traffic
  • Indulged in so many chocolates mom brought from New York…
  • Made fafdas- a Gujju specialty, made during Diwali
  • Ate Pav Bhaji at Honest Restaurant… and loved it
  • Opened all the cupboards and brought whatever I could. As kids, we loved exploring mom’s cupboard… it was always full of stuff and we could find something for ourselves
  • Had daal bhaati… being close to Rajasthan, it is a popular dish in my hometown. I plan to make it next week

The days flew past… I have been wanting the month to end, there is too much pressure. But the only holiday of the year is over and it does not feel good. I guess, I need to plan something for December to cheer me up.

Today has been relaxing. I flew back last night and reached home at midnight. There was no dinner since restaurants close down by 11 pm.
I woke up early… unpacked, washed clothes. The maid and cook turned up on time, thankfully. After buying groceries, I relaxed for sometime and then hit the gym. Now I am waiting for KC to arrive.
All in all, a good vacation and a significant one.


Say it with pictures

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The Diwali diyas… at home it was my duty to light the diyas and place them in every room… every balcony… I like doing it even now. Since we are not home for Diwali, I didn’t think about doing it. But seeing lights in every house, have decided to do today and tomorrow. Also, there are no candles or match sticks but I had enough of the perfumed diyas. We also had a Diwali Mela in the society… we indulged in kachori, bhel, chicken seekh kabab and ice cream. Fun.

There were Diwali celebrations in office on Saturday. I skipped the Puja… prefer work to Puja, anyday…. participated in the Rangoli competition… above is our team Rangoli… pretty decent considering none of us had any idea how to go about it. My bro and I used to make Rangolis at home for Diwali but being creatively challenged, we used the design stencils.
My new footwear ordered from Fashionandyou.com.


Diwali Trip

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KC and I headed to Goa this Diwali. Diwali can get pretty boring if you are not religious and do not burst crackers. A colleague who has recently shifted from Kolkata was also complaining about the deafening noise of crackers. KC was travelling from Mangalore and I headed from Thane. The journey was uneventful and was not uncomfortable at all.
We had booked ourselves into Cida de goa which is 10 km from Panaji. It greeted us with a beautiful view of the sea. Thankfully, we could check earlier into our sea facing room.

The food at the resort was amazing… the buffet had everything- chicken, fish, mutton/lamb, pasta, Indian, range of desserts, sausages at b’fast. Day 1 was spent relaxing. I generally like to start on the activities- be it water sports, sight seeing, going to the beach. KC is the more relaxed (lazy) kinds. During every trip the 1st day has to be spent sleeping. Even if we check into a hotel in Mumbai I am sure he will want to sleep first since he would have travelled from Mulund to ABC. (With all due respect to his hectic travelling sales job).
The beach was a disappointment. It was dirty and the tides were low. I missed having a good time on the private beach. Well, atleast the swimming pool was overlooking the sea. The beaches at Dona Silva (have been there twice- once with parents and another time with KC on Diwali 2008) and Kenilworth Resort were heaven compared to this one.
We rented a bike on day 2 and headed to Fort Aguada which is 20 km from Panaji. We have done the usual sightseeing earlier- the church, the temple, the cruise and had no interest in it. We picked the Fort since it has a nice view. Beautiful!!!

Unfortunately, the Fort and lighthouse close at 5.30 pm and we had to leave soon. There are very cute restaurants along the way. The resort had organized a Diwali Gala dinner for which they had charged us 1200 bucks. I tried to negotiate out of it but was unsuccessful. Anyway, arrangements were made on the beach… there was a dance troupe and dinner under the skies. It started raining and the venue was moved indoors. It was 9 pm by then… people were hungry and we ended up eating whatever was available. It was an absolute waste of our money and I did complain while checking out. The manager was courteous enough to apologize. When we refused his offer for a free lunch he sent a wine bottle after us- too bad it is red.
Day 3 we checked out and headed to Panaji for lunch. The rest of the day was spent lazing around in the resort since neither of us wanted to shop.
Here are some tips if you are planning a trip to Goa:
  • Pick a resort with a good clean private beach. It doubles the fun
  • During Diwali and New Year’s you will be charged anywhere from 500- 1000 bucks per head for the Gala dinner in most resorts
  • Skip the regular sight seeing… it is boring. Rent a bike and explore Goa’s lanes. It is beautiful. You don’t need to visit any other beach if there is a private beach
  • There is a good market in Panaji behind Inox where you can shop. We came across it on the 3rd day and it was too late by then
  • Relax… laze around in the sun… have some fun
  • Check out timings of sight seeing places… you do not want be late and miss the view like we did
  • Skip the cruise which resorts will book you into. They are total crap
I hated to go to work today… no matter how many times we part there is still the heavy feeling in my heart. I could not drop to the bus today since I had a lot of work in office and was in no mood to drive all the way to Vashi and back.


Goodbye

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Hey people… Just dropped to say ‘Goodbye’. I am off to Goa tonight. I have spent the day finishing chores outside and inside the house. Packing was pain since I pack for all situations. I hate to think that I might not have something I need and regret not carrying it. Please pray my suitcase does not burst at the seams.

Happy Diwali to one and all. I don’t generally reply mails or smses wishing me. It is quite a pain.
Expect the next post on Sunday or Monday… until YENJOY!!!


The most hated festival

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So… the drums start again on the road near my building. I have paused the CD player ‘coz I cannot hear a thing. I can’t even hear myself think. I have never hated another festival soooo much… not even Holi when you cannot venture outdoors… not Diwali when you have to look for crackers on the streets.

Ganesh Chaturthi is the most hated festival of all. What makes it ok for people to inconvenience others sooo much? There is fear in the evening while leaving work ‘coz I can never be sure which roads will be blocked by people carrying the statue for visarjan.
Compare this to Durga Puja that I witnessed during my 1 month stay in Kolkata. For 4-5 days the entire city is closed… malls, shops, offices… everything. People go pandaal hopping in peace. I have visited 3-4 pandaals in one day without any nuisance… there was not too much traffic or crowd. People had fun in their own way without bothering anyone else. There was no blocking the streets, no blaring noise, no untoward incidents.
I think we should all learn how to celebrate festivals from the Kolkatans.
I hate Mumbai all the more now. The government is quite useless. Basic amenities are lacking- the city is dirty, roads have potholes, traffic is out of control, rents are sky high and so not worth it, there are diseases everywhere, slums as far as the eye can see and terrorist attacks every year.
Can it get worse?


Festivals

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I am very confused about festivals… why they are celebrated… what is the purpose?

Don’t give me religious reasons… we don’t even remember them.
As a kid I loved most festivals… holi, diwali, rakshabandhan… my parents ensured each one was celebrated the way it was meant to be. Now that I am an adult they seem like a waste of money. Thousands of rupees blown off on fire crackers??? Is that enjoyment? What is left ultimately? Bits of paper littered around?
Or take Holi… infecting your skin and hair to dangerous chemicals? In my building Holi was celebrated with rain dance… showers were installed in the parking… water tankers were called… and people colored and danced under the showers with music in the background. Sounds fun? Despite daily reports of water shortage in the city?
Like KC said… the rich can afford it.


And the award goes to…

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Dear Diary,

I tried cooking mushrooms sabji today… it was ok ok. I need to find a better recipe. A new mall has opened on Godbundher road in Thane. I took the auto instead of my car since I don’t know the way. It was so so so far and there were no autos on the way back. It was kinda scary… Mumbai is mostly a safe kind of place… but…
KC wished me ‘Happy Sankranti’ in the morning. I told him clearly; ‘I don’t celebrate any festivals. It is against my principles’. But… ‘Happy Sankranti’ to all… atleast festivals give excuses for holiday from work.
There are malls opening in Mumbai in the upcountry areas… like Thane, Virar, Kalyan, Bhayender etc. Mumbai and its suburbs are saturated… it is even difficult to sustain them with the high rents. There is another mall opening in Vikhroli and Bhandup. Navi Mumbai is also saturated.
I am voting for Filmfare Awards. I have never voted and dumb movies get awards.This year I am using my right. My right to vote… πŸ™‚
Best Movie: Luck By Chance… I can watch it over and over and over again
Best Director: Anurag Kashyap… Dev D
Best Actor: Abhay Deol… Dev D
Best Actress: Konkana Sen Sharma… Luck By Chance
I hope one/all of them win.
Love,
Me


Diwali gifts

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Everyone looks forward to the Diwali Bonus/Gift. I shifted into this building 3 months back and was not sure if I should give Diwali baksheesh… should it be money or gift??? If it is money… how much should it be? Thankfully, the building association gave all the employees baksheesh and they didn’t bother me. I was a little concerned about the laundry guy and the Bai. They are my crutches… pissing them off would not do. I gave the Bai 100 bucks (which is 14% of her monthly salary) but she was unhappy and asked me for more. Fortunately, those were the last 100 bucks in my wallet. Today… she demanded Diwali Mithai very diplomatically… “My kids were asking… hasn’t madam given you mithais???” I mumbled; “Well… I didn’t know you wanted Mithai… I don’t have time now”… The laundry guy also demanded Diwali money and I put it off for another day. Mithai or money??? I still have to decide.

In case you think I am a heartless bitch (which I am)… I treat my Bai quite well… I have already given her loads of old clothes… she collects old newspapers from me every 15 days… I help her clean on Sundays…
Come to think of it… she has become very dedicated since Diwali… she does more than her job profile demands… which is scary. Is she trying to make me feel guilty??? It is weird the amount of control she exerts on my life.
Anyway… coming to my Diwali gift… I miss the old days when companies gave a bonus. My previous company gave us useful stuff like… microwave… DVD player. Everyone… from top management to the bottom guys received the same gift. My new company has given me 15 free products… good ones… very good ones. Thank god.. my previous company didn’t do that… cartons of confectionery would make a very pathetic gift and lower morale+motivation.
The cupboard of my dressing table is stuffed… it is full of toiletries… some I bought in the staff sale and others I got as Diwali gifts… I have 6 bottles of Shampoo, 5 conditioners, 3 serums, 2 hair sprays, 2 eye roll ons, 1 age lift roll on, 4 face washes, 4 face moisturisers, 4 deos… sigh!!! I am stocked up for aeons… And all this… after I gifted Shampoo bottles and make up to my friends…


Feeling and looking colorful

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Sigh!!! I have scrubbed and scrubbed till I drew blood but the color refuses to go away. Mama had brought non-toxic colors which would come off easily… but the others were not so thoughtful.

I woke up at 9 am (slept for 10-11 hrs straight)… parents and bro had reached at 6 am. After a b’fast of fafdas (Gujju snack), jalebis, pakodas etc which I mostly avoided… we got ready with the colors and stuff… there were 20-25 of us (relatives) and we attacked… once everyone looked colorful and unrecognizable we looked for new targets who were hiding in their homes. As soon as a new victim came out all of us went after him/her. Nobody was spared and everytime someone went to wash up we attacked them again. My masi got bugged with my constant shouting.. “Attack!!! Masi washed her face again”.

The came the Grand Finale… we caught my Bro and tore his shirt… Mom tried to rescue him but to no avail. One by one the tee shirts of the other kids were torn… When my Bro was young my Masi would tear the pockets of his shirts… she found it quite funny. When she had kids we tore the pockets of their shirts. I guess we have a weird fetish with tearing clothes. It is also a tradition in the wedding… where the groom’s clothes are torn.

After a yummy lunch of fish and rice I dozed off into sweet dreams. Now I am bored… the kids are busy studying for exams… everyone else is sleeping… I don’t want to read ‘coz I have to save the book for my journey tomorrow.

I don’t remember the last time I did nothing all day.