Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Holiday from LPOs

Greetings!!
I was in two minds about sending this post. It’s Narak Chaturdasi the second day of Deepavali and who wants to listen to a witch? Narkasur was a demon king who supposedly stole a queen’s earrings; (I don’t believe it. Why would a king do that?), kidnapped several thousand women, and imprisoned them in his harem. (The handsome devil!). He was killed by Krishna (but of course), and Narak Chaturdasi celebrates symbolically the triumph of good over greed and evil.

One Narak Chaturdasi I was holidaying in Goa. The Goans celebrate this day quite differently. Huge effigies of Narkasur, some up to 20 to 30 feet tall are constructed by the locals and put up in the fields. The sight of these demonic creatures dotting the green and peaceful Goan landscape is arresting to say the least. On the night of Narak Chaturdasi, the effigies are brought to the marketplace in a procession, on trucks, and set alight. Since the effigies have been packed with firecrackers there’s lots of sound and light. What was unusual was the absolute lack of any rowdiness or unnecessary noise, or any women baiting. But then Goa does have a very cultured and educated population. (Go see for yourself.)

Another thing unusual was that while the rest of India gorges on rich sweets and fried stuff at Deepavali, Goan Hindus prepare, eat, and share with friends and neighbors, a concoction of puffed rice (poha) and coconut jaggery. My ancestry being Goan, I have had that very simple dish often, as a child. I was quite surprised therefore, when I saw it being proudly presented at Deepavali. I think that is because since it was Krishna who killed Narkasur and Krishna supposedly liked puffed rice, the Goans are keeping the tradition. I like.

THE WEEK THAT WAS:
Life generally sucks. But one morning, last week I awoke feeling more alive than usual, and so when the phone rang at 7.30 a.m. jumped to get it, determined to be a ray of sunshine and floor the unknown caller with my charm and cheer.
"Hell-ooo-oo, a very good morning" I trilled huskily, in my best RJ imitation.
A short silence.
Then, a low voice, says diffidently, "Madam, main macchiwalla".
Damn!
(Macchiwalla- fishmonger. My fish seller is an old ragbag who sells fish from a basket slung on his bicycle and rings me from the gate.)

Lesson learned (for the umpteemth time) : Life sucks.

Well at least Naresh of Jet Airways got what he wanted. Fuel concessions and extended fuel credit. In business, everything’s fair that brings in the moolah. You know that.

The Witch Endorses: All of us are in a super financial soup, but let’s forget our miseries for a while. Light a few lamps, put fancy rangoli designs in the doorway, (even though like me, your artistic development may have stopped at age 3½), damn all diets and gorge on karanjis and chaklis. While you do that also look to help someone underprivileged. There are plenty of people living on the edge of poverty who do not like to ask for help. Take some sweets, clothes or books. The idea is not to do it so that you earn some brownie points in your life. Do it to make somebody happy. Period.

THE WITCH'S BREW: This week's brew is a little different and meant especially for those of you, who have backaches and body aches and cricks, from sitting too long at the computer or from sleeping in odd places and positions. (Ha. You wish!!)

Make small 4x4 inch squares of cotton cloth, put two teaspoons of salt in each square and tie up with string to make small bundles. Dip the upper tip of each bundle in a little oil. Lie on your stomach and get someone to place those bundles all over your back about 4 inches apart. Then light each bundle. It will light easily since the tips have been dipped in oil. As soon as one is lit, place a glass, (upturned of course, you twit) , on each bundle. The flame will burn until it has eaten up the oxygen trapped in the glass and the glass will stick fast pulling up within itself, flesh and muscle. Light all the bundles and cover them with the glasses one by one. Leave on for a while. (It is a fascinating sight. A back covered in upturned glasses!! And no, your back will not catch fire.). After some time, the glasses loosen and come off easily. Feel the difference.
With all that biking, hiking and swimming haven’t felt the need for it yet. My mother and aunts however, swear by it. I think it is a sort of heat therapy. My grandmother claimed to have learned it from her ancestors, but I read somewhere that the Chinese are claiming to have discovered it. Does that mean that my ancestors played around with the Chinese?

MAKE A FIST: This week takes a break from profession related writing. Besides, the witch needs help with this really serious problem. I just feel compelled to keep busy 24x7. I am told this implies an escapist attitude and that I am escaping into work in order to avoid facing some problem in my life. Not going to admit anything. (But couldn’t it be that I just have a very agile mind that always needs to be occupied? That sounds so much better.)


Anyway, I finished with lectures just last Saturday and am already hyperventilating at the thought of being at a loose end for the next two months. Going to make a fist by pampering the witch, indulging her, forcing her to relax. Plan to either learn roller skating or gliding. Wish me luck. And of course I will be writing away like crazy.

THE LAST WORD:

You know my forecasts come true, don’t you? So believe you me, when I foretell for you a very happy and fruitful time in the coming Hindu New Year. Happy Deepavali, people! Keep the faith.

This is for someone who has just begun on a new voyage; whose interests are very dear to the witch’s heart; and to whom the witch had once asked to choose one of two boons. (That one came true, did it not?) The witch grants you the other boon too, with only a small change.

I wish you-
Bright sunny days full of restful sleep
Long, long nights with your laptop keys,
Projects that never seem to end
And coffers ringing with dollars, (not cents.)
I wish you-
Servers that never break down.
And tough hard drives that go on and on.
Eager people obeying your every wish
And of course,
I wish upon you-

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