Days of yore

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days of yore

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Karwa chauth 2017. The year I gave up on fasting

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I got married in 2004 , but started celebrating Karwachauth only two years later. I did attempt to observe the fast and indeed stayed hungry till the evening ( both the times ), but gave up on the idea after the evening. Both the times , I was away from home, in a strange setup, and couldn’t really follow it through. The third time, though, I could finally “complete” the fast as my husband insisted on us observing it! Serving in a field area, and perhaps feeling the pangs of separation, it was he who reminded me that Karwachauth was approaching. ( He, who had once forced me to eat when I attempted to fast on a Thursday) . I was expecting my first child and was at my parents’ place at that time. Fresh love, intensified by distance, made me declare valiantly to my mother “I will be fasting on Karwachauth this year!” Valiantly, because everyone in my family knew that hunger and I were not the best of friends. In fact, once, after being goaded by our family pandit for quite a few years, I gave in and started “fasting” on Thursdays; couldn’t last for more than a couple of months,though. Throughout the day, I would torture everyone around me , giving them “weakness” looks. After I had gorged on Besan laddoos, milk, sweetened paranthas at night, I would go through the food sections of various magazines and show my mother the delicacies that I wanted to eat the next day. Just dreaming about them made me survive the nights. So you get the drift? That I am not a “fasty” kind of a person.

Coming back to my first Karwachauth, the day saw me devouring milk and fruits through the hours. The circumstances helped, as I was an expectant mother and couldn’t possibly remain hungry. But my husband, he didn’t even have a drop of water the whole day! Surely, that’s the kind of love that inspires poetry ( He will kill me for writing this here). And now, after thirteen years of marriage; he comes back home from his office, eats his lunch, burps, and says “Hey, have you eaten? I didn’t see you eat.” Then, he looks at me innocently when I give him looks that could kill.

I am a garhwali, and garhwalis don’t celebrate Karwachauth. But my mother did, despite the fact that Dad hated her fasts as he believed that fasting had messed up with her health. Though even she would eat fruits and drink milk through the day. She would remind me every year to buy a Karwa, dress properly and perform the pooja in a proper manner. But for me, it was more a celebration than a ritual. I would dread her phone calls the entire day, because she would enquire whether I had read the katha and bought all the necessary items for the pooja. A confession here- I never read the katha , because once as a kid, when I had read it out to my mother, I had found it totally unbelievable.

So, my husband and I continued with our celebrations for a few more years as we were living together in a peace station. We either went to a restaurant or ordered in. Really, when I look back now, it seems to me that we were enjoying the special fasting food more than anything else. Then he went away on a field posting and my fasting became even more customized. I would quickly light a diya and pray, in t-shirt and pajamas; and would call out to my house help in a “weak” voice, to quickly provide some food and save me ( on the verge of dying of hunger). The hubby, bless him, would somehow manage to give a call from far flung mountains and together, we would “look” at the moon and eat. He was definitely better at fasting than me, no doubt about that.

Now, the Karwachauth of 2017 :-

Me: Karwachauth is approaching.
Hubby : But you have to take medicines. You are definitely not staying hungry.

Me : But it’s “our” celebration !
Hubby : We will definitely celebrate. We will eat poori, aloo and kheer at night.

Me : But how can we just stop fasting?
Hubby : “Fasting”, did you say? When did we do that? All I remember is the “Eating”.

Me : To tell you the truth, I was never convinced about the regressive idea behind the festival.
Hubby : But you have to touch my feet in reverence, you never did do that. That will make me believe that you look up to me.

Me : Only when you touch my feet too. I too, like being looked up to!
Husband : So, it’s decided then. We are not fasting. Bring on the Pooris!

And so, a chapter in our lives closed this year. We are officially “off” Karwachauth . But we still celebrated. We ate. We smiled and laughed. We pulled each other’s leg and teased each other. I know that he will fight the devil to bring me back from hell, if need be. And I will do the same for him. Hey! isn’t that the essence of the festival? Maybe we did observe the “fast” after all!

© Oct 2017 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

 

Roots or wings? Or both?

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Come let’s fly away, whispered the wings to her
But my feet are entwined in these roots, she replied

Give a push and break free, urged the wings
These roots provide stability and keep me balanced, she said

How else will you witness new and far away horizons? asked the impatient wings
Are you strong enough to take me away and then fly me back? she wanted to know

There is no guarantee and there are no safety rules, came the wings’ reply
Oh Lord! Please guide me through this dilemma, she gave an agonized cry

We will help you, came a reassuring whisper from the roots
How? she asked, skeptical and dejected

We will loosen our grip and you can break free, said the roots
But I just want to see the world and come back, she said

That you decide once you have seen the magic that is floating around, came the bemused answer; we will be in the same place, waiting

With a deep breath, she reached out for the wings
and was stunned when she realized that the wings were always there on her person

Like a butterfly, she had never seen her own wings and strength
Ecstatic, she unfurled the wings to fly towards the beckoning wonders of the world

She flew, higher and higher, above the clouds of tradition and prejudices
And she soared!

© Oct 2017 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

 

 

 

आजकल

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आजकल जब कुछ शब्द मेरे मन के झरोंखों से झांकते हैं
तो मैं उन्हें हमेशा की तरह अपने मन के आँगन में उतरने का निमन्त्रण देती हूँ

और देतीं हूँ उन्हें आमन्त्रण आँगन में बिखरी भीनी धूप में बैठकर सुस्ताने का
मेरे साथ कुछ देर बैठकर बतियाने और हँसने का

ताकि मैं उन शब्दों के सार को एक सुंदर माला में पिरो लूँ
और उन्हें ख़ुशी से विदा करूँ किसी और के झरोंखे की ओर

पर आजकल पता नहीं क्यों ये शब्द मेरे मन के आँगन में नहीं रुकते
आते ज़रूर हैं, लेकिन कुछ ही पलों के लिए

मेरे साथ बतियाते और हँसते भी हैं भीनी धूप में
और मैं अपने इन प्रिय मेहमानों की हँसी के कुछ मोती अपनी माला में पिरोना भी शुरू करती हूँ

पर इससे पहले कि मेरी माला पूरी हो, एक चंचल तितली कि तरह ये फुर्र से उड़ जाते हैं
किसी और झरोखे , किसी और आँगन की ओर

© Sep 2017 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

 

What is holding you back? Just say it!

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A few months back, I attended a “Ladies’ only” function. In the fauji life, we regularly have such functions, where we meet other ladies in the station to socialise, eat, drink and have fun. These are called “Ladies Meets”. Generally there is a central theme assigned to each meet, and the guests are expected to be sporting enough to dress according to the theme. This particular meet must have had some informal theme because I remember being dressed accordingly, in a short dress. As we reached the venue, a lady much younger to me, said, ” I love your dress”. Feeling pleased, I thanked her and took a seat. She said further, “I like all your dresses and am an admirer. I just didn’t say this to you all this while, because I didn’t want to come across as a flatterer.” “Hey!” I said. “There’s no way I could have thought that. In fact, you just made my day.” And sure enough, it was true, because I smiled throughout the day after this conversation. In fact, I went back home and bragged quite a bit to my husband about the compliment! See, what a positive effect a sincere compliment has on any person! So why aren’t most people generous with praise and compliments?

One sees so many people hesitating and not knowing how to sincerely praise someone else. They may be comfortable doling out flippant compliments, sometimes out of social niceties and sometimes just for the heck of it. But when it comes to an honest appreciation or a heartfelt compliment, they hold back. Hey ,why is that so? Are we so shallow that we don’t want to give appreciation where it is deserved? What’s holding us back from giving a person his/her due? Some soul searching, and you will get the answer.

There is a flip side to this too. Many people don’t know how to “accept” and “receive ” compliments in a gracious manner. You praise them for something and they will either not respond or look at you suspiciously as if you are secretly mocking them. Now, I have always been a “compliment giver “. And specially after my mother’s untimely demise, I don’t hold back anything inside me. When you go through a life altering experience like this, you stop sweating the small stuff. There is a certain realization about the fickle nature of life and you want to make other people’s life easy and pleasant. If I like something about someone, you can be sure that I will say it aloud and be generous in doling out the praise. At times I see people giving a suspicious stare and at times they pretend that haven’t heard it. Some people start to explain why they don’t deserve the compliment. For god’s sake, just smile and accept it gracefully. Why do we find it so difficult to accept the fact that someone finds us praiseworthy? We all need to be a bit more relaxed, a lot less self conscious and a helluva lot more generous to be able to appreciate another being, and more importantly, to be able to express the appreciation in a fruitful manner.

So what are we waiting for? Life is short. What is the point in saving so many words inside you and then regretting years later that you had blurted them out? Don’t play mind games. Don’t worry about whether the person gets you or not. I think the word is “sincerity”. If you are unfailingly sincere in your words of appreciation, people are bound to understand sooner or later. Even if they don’t, you know you have done your bit and tried. I see so many people looking for “causes” to associate with, in the name of social work. In my opinion, there is no greater social service than being genuinely kind and respectful in our daily interaction with other people. So, see that person you just praised and appreciated? You just made his/her day and made the world a bit more pleasant, a lot more tolerable for that person. You never know, your words might be like water to his/her parched soul, magical music to his/her ears. Be lavish in your praise. Don’t be stingy with your words of kindness.

Feel good about someone? Say it. Appreciate someone’s hard work and effort? Say it. Get good vibes from someone? Say it. Love someone’s outfit? Say it. See a silent worker around you? Acknowledge his/her sincerity. Sense your spouse’s devotion? SAY IT, for heaven’s sake! What’s stopping you? Go ahead. Out with it! Don’t hold back.

JUST. SAY. IT.

© Aug 2017 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

 

Plantar Fasciitis, my FOOT !! ( pun intended)

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It started in Jaipur, two years ago. I would wake up in the mornings and would find it difficult to put my feet on the floor, because they hurt so much. The heels and the ankles won’t take the rest of the body’s weight and I would limp around the house. After about five to ten minutes, the pain would subside and I would carry on as usual. Met a couple of doctors and they dismissed it, attributing the “discomfort ” to my slipped discs. So, the “discomfort”and I got used to each other.

A year ago, we came to Fatehgarh and the morning limping continued. I carried on with the evening walks and had become quite blase to the “discomfort”. Then, one evening, after attending a friend’s birthday party; I came home and the heels of my feet hurt like hell. They gave a huge shriek when I put my weight on them.Some more days passed and one fateful day, I don’t know what came over me ( as I am not really big on gyming). I did a very short, adventerous jog ( which lasted for less than a minute before I keeled over because of the sharp and intense pain) on the treadmill. The heels now howled and completely gave out. And it was time to visit the doctor. This time, there was an X-Ray done, of my long suffering feet. The diagnosis was- ” Calcaneal Spur”, which is a bony outgrowth of the bone of the heel. The physiotherapy and the medicines started; but the problem persisted. Finally, went to see a doctor in the civvy street. One sentence from me and he diagnosed the condition as “Plantar Fasciits”. Another round of medicines and physiotherapy followed. No relief came. It seemed that the plantar fasciitis was quite comfortable with me ,feeling sentimental about saying “goodbye”.

What is Plantar Fasciitis? In simple words, The plantar fascia is a thin, web-like ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot. It supports the arch of your foot and helps you walk. When it gets injured or inflamed, the condition is referred to as Plantar Fasciitis. Now let’s leave the technical part, shall we? Coz I am so damn fed up of this beast that if it were a person, I would have ruthlessly gone for the kill by now. It’s clung to me for too long now and I want to get rid of it, fast.
I have taken the bull by it’s horns now, before it completely robs me of all joy. Apart from the ongoing physiotherapy, I have consulted an ayurvedic doctor(recommended by the physiotherapist himself). He has banned rice, curd and refrigerated ( meaning “cold”) items from my plate. That’s a tough call, for a rice lover like me. Because of the ban on rice, there’s no joy for me during mealtimes nowadays.Also, no dahi vadas, which I love. Here’s a confession. I steal a few spoonfuls of rice that have been cooked for my husband, daily. Ahhhh! The pleasure one gets from doing something that’s forbidden! This is what Eve must have felt when she ate the forbidden apple!
As suggested by my husband’s colleague ( who had the same problem some years back), I am also doing a “desi ilaaj” for my feet. We bought a huge iron Kadahi from the market, procured sand from the river bed and got hold of a square shaped piece of red brick. A makeshift “chulha” with bricks was made in the backyard. Daily in the evening, a fire is lit up in the chulha and the kadahi containing the sand covered brick is heated over it for an hour. Then I sit on a chair in front of the kadahi and treat the heels of my feet to the “hot brick treatment”. This desi treatment is what seems to have helped me the most.

There has been a complete ban on wearing any kind of heels too. I have never been a very “heels” person, wearing them with sarees mostly. Infact, none of the pairs that I own have heels above three inches, because I know that if were to wear a pair of stilletos, I would definitely end up in a very un_ladylike heap on the floor. Hats off to all the women who wear and carry these beauties with elan. So, I attend the official parties in the officers’ mess as usual; all dressed up; beautiful chiffon saree, dainty jewellery, makeup in place; AND wearing Dr. Scholl’s cushioned sandals ( which look like a pair of slippers ). So much for glamour and style! The last time I wore a pair of heels was six months back. All the heeled pairs are sitting idle, neatly lined up in the shoe cupboard. Like I said earlier, anything that’s prohibited makes you notice it more. So I look wistfully at them and wait for the time when I would be able to wear them again.

But there’s been a couple of rays of light in this darkness of planter fasciitis. I got to shop for some new pair of flat soled shoes for myself. In these past few months, seven new pairs have been added to my shoe collection. In fact I have purchased a pair online too, much to the amusement of my husband. I told him that shopping is therapeutic in nature and will help in the healing of my feet. And now, for the cherry on top. Since my daily walks couldn’t possibly continue because of my ailing feet, I took up cycling,an old hobby of mine, a few months back. Every evening, I cycle for about an hour and it has turned out to be something that I am enjoying a lot. It was an effort from my side to continue with some physical form of exercise and there has been a free perk alongside. A few days back I discovered that I have lost two kgs weight. Whooaa! They say, every dark cloud has a silver lining, and loosing weight has been the silver lining in this case.

But hey Plantar Fasciitis, although you have found my feet to be a comfortable place to settle in; the owner of these feet doesn’t want to be friends with you at all. You are a hugely unwelcome guest and it’s time for you to leave. Just pack your bags and move out. Never return again. Find a place of your own and don’t ever leave it, you filthy pest!

© Aug 2017 Sapna Dhyani Devrani