There’s nothing like India for an adventure. I don’t know what it is about this country, but I quite often find myself doing things that I would never do at home. I chase elephants down the road, and happily allow myself to be draped in huge snakes — not just once, but on multiple occasions.
On Sunday, I’ll be departing on an eight day trip to Spiti, in remote northern India. The region of Spiti is located over 14,000 feet (4,300 metres) above sea level. Yaks roam freely there. I’ll be staying in someone’s home in a village, and participating in all sorts of local activities such as farming and animal herding.
I’m feeling both exited and daunted about going there. I’ve never been to an extremely high altitude area before, and have no idea how my body will deal with it. I’ll be very much out of my comfort zone.
However, I dare say that the adventure will be good preparation for what’s in store for me after I arrive back in Mumbai. I’m also likely to find it easy in comparison to this other challenge that awaits.
I wonder if India has finally sent me insane. [click to continue…]
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I was watching India’s Got Talent (a talent competition) on TV on Sunday night. There was an amazing dancer on the show. A child wearing a beautiful dress, with stunning hair and makeup, around eight years old. He danced extremely well. Yes, the child was in fact a boy. This was almost impossible to distinguish, and certainly not by the way he danced.
The judges were quite astonished. One of them commented that he found it quite disturbing to start off with — this boy who looked and danced like a girl. He soon forgot about it though, because the dancing was so convincing.
The boy’s parents were asked why they dressed their child up like a girl, and encouraged him to dance like a girl. “Because it’s fun”, they replied.
Indeed, this bizarre idea of fun seems to be quite widespread in India. [click to continue…]
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Toe rings from Orissa.
I really enjoy wearing Indian jewellery. One of the first types that I bought was toe rings. I got them from New Market in Kolkata, on a rainy monsoon day, and never took them off. Until recently, that is.
I was thrilled when my sister-in-law came to visit from Orissa and gave me these toe rings. I love their intricate and colourful design.
Unfortunately, I don’t like toes (including mine) much at all though!
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www.flickr.com user prakhar
There’s an interesting article in a special promotional section of the Hindustan Times today. It takes a look back over 85 years of matrimonial ads in India. As can be expected, quite a bit has changed over time. It’s fascinating to see how India has evolved.
From fixations about caste and virginity in the 1930s, the focus shifted to education, then to world travel and exploration, then to parity between partners.
In the 1930s and 1940s, a typical matrimonial ad consisted of a desire to find a “handsome, healthy, virgin” girl. “Western fashioned, highly educated need not approach”.
In the 1960s a “family with connections” was a popular request, along with grooms in government service. The 1970s and 1980s saw many ads for “fair, tall, homely, and convent educated” girls (ie. ones that could speak English). Many females started becoming well educated, and these girls were in high demand from educated men, such as engineers and doctors.
By 1990, social status became determined not by caste but by education, and where the family owned a house. Well-to-do families started becoming very fussy about prospective grooms, and started making demands of their own! [click to continue…]
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I’ve been feeling quite sad and gloomy the last couple of days. I’m not quite sure what it’s causing it. I think I must be lonely.
My husband hasn’t been home much lately. He’s been working during the day, and then going straight to a friend’s place because they’re producing a new track. Often he doesn’t get home until midnight. By then, I’m usually tired and ready for bed. He likes to spend another couple of hours listening to music though.
It’s tough. I don’t want him to stop what he’s doing because he gets so much enjoyment from it, and it’s his profession. It just find myself going a little crazy, spending so much time at home alone in our small apartment.
I’m all too aware of the fact that I’m surrounded by people, but my husband is one of the few that understands me. Of course, I could go next door to the neighbours. I don’t want to talk about such things as what I’m cooking for dinner tonight though. I just want to relax with a glass of wine and have a few laughs. Sure, I could go and meet a friend. In this weather, it’s likely that I would have to travel for two hours in a rickshaw just to get there though!
Ah, sometimes it’s a good thing that nothing remains permanent in life! And it’s even better that my problem is only a state of mind. This situation is a good reminder that the only person that my happiness depends upon is me. If I just work on changing my thoughts and perception a little, I won’t have to go anywhere or be with anyone to be happy again
So, I should just give myself a kick in the bum, go and put some music on, light some incense, dance around a little, and jaldi sab thik ho jayega!
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I remember the first time I encountered a Fancy Store in India. I was living in Varkala, Kerala and wanted to buy some elastic bands for my hair. Normally, I’d just get them from the supermarket. But not in India!
“Try the fancy store”, I was advised. Fancy store? Uh oh. What could that be? It turns out that there are in fact many fancy stores in India. Furthermore, I soon learned that if I couldn’t think of which shop to get an item from, I was likely to find it at a fancy store.
Some things that I’ve bought from a fancy store include:
- A plastic tailors tape measure.
- Shoe laces.
- Roll on antiperspirant.
- A child’s toy.
(The fancy store pictured above is in Manali, in northern India).
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Another topic that’s been attracting quite a few comments lately is that of issues which arise in desi-firangi and other multicultural relationships. Issues such as religion, in-laws, family dynamics, parenting, and education — which can easily break a relationship if they’re not agreed upon.
I’ve moved everyone’s comments to this post to bring the discussion together.
Fortunately, the big considerations haven’t really posed much of a hurdle for my husband and I. We are both spiritual more than religious. He’s a Hindu who went to a Catholic school (and probably knows more about the Bible than me!). I went to an Anglican school but am more interested in Hinduism than Christianity. We both love our parents very much but are also very independent from them. We often get frustrated by their views, because our outlook is much more worldly than theirs. We don’t want more than one child. We’ve agreed it will sleep in our bed until it’s mature enough to want to sleep separately. He’s willing to move to Australia with me in the future if I feel I need to be closer to my parents (I’m an only child and don’t want them to be alone in their old age). Likewise, I’d be happy to care for his parents if necessary.
I remember asking my husband, before we were married, if there was anything in particular and additional that he’d expect from me. His response was for me to cook lunch for him. Fair enough! That’s perfectly reasonable, after all my mother cooks lunch for my father as well.
As as result, it’s more our day-to-day behaviour that poses a problem for us. [click to continue…]
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