Oh, My God!

I’m not a very religious person. I do believe in God. I pray, talk to God and look for signs when I’m in trouble to guide me, etc., but I don’t exactly have a routine. I feel my relationship with my maker is a personal one. And I don’t go to temples regularly.

But when I was a kid, I was taken around to lot of temples & was fed lot of stories where ‘God will blind you if you’re evil’ was always the moral. And I was encouraged to pray for things I wanted.

But as my rational thinking grew, I began to adopt the philosophy mentioned in the first paragraph.

Now, my seven year old son has a lot of questions about God. Since my husband is a thorough rationalist, its totally up to me to shape his mind in these matters.

Do I blindly follow my parents & teach him the ‘Saami kannai kutthidum’ philosophy or explain things a bit more rationally?

Thanks to Cartoon Network, he already has his basics covered on the different Gods & their Avataars. And thanks to school, he already knows there are a lot of religions in this world.

So I just answer his questions, as & when they arise, as best as I can.

1st of  September was Vinayaka Chathurthi. I love that festival only for the yummy kozhukkattais… 

Last year my husband wanted to give him a taste of his own childhood & took him shopping for a clay Ganesha, in a typical market place.

This year, he flatly refused to go along. “The streets are yucky! I will not walk in all that muck!” He begged off. My husband went alone and picked up a clay Ganesha sprayed with fine gold dust.

But  I wanted to make up for the lack of fun, so I woke up early, made the kozhukkattais and called my son for the puja.

Of course, it was just the two of us, since my husband was still snoring.

Both of us sat in front of the decked-up Ganesha, did the puja and I explained to him that Kozhukattais are Ganesha’s favourite sweet & all the fruits were for him.

Then I asked him to sing a small Ganesha song. He did that dutifully.

In a while, it was breakfast time. While he had a bowl full of his favourite cereal, I sat in front of him, with a bowl of kozhukkattais, waiting to dig in.

“No!” my son screamed suddenly. “You cannot have them! Its Ganesha’s!”

Peeved to be deprived of my favourite sweet, I held on tight to the bowl while he tried to pry it from my hand.

“He just blessed it, baby!” I explained patiently. “Now we can eat them.”

“No way! You said you made them especially for him!” He argued.”You cannot take it from him!”

“Thousands of homes make the kozhukkatais today.” I reasoned. “He cannot eat each and every one of them! So he blesses them and gives it back to us…”

But he’ll have none of it.

Since it was time for school, we wrapped up and left.

That evening he came running to me while I was pounding away at my comp. “Amma! Ganesha has eaten all the kozhukkatais in the plate!” He said joyfully. I noticed his bare upper body had a bit of gold dust.

“What happened?” I asked, pointing to the gold.

“I gave Ganesha a big hug!” he admitted sheepishly.

Next morning I needed a banana for my cereal. So I plucked  one  from the puja plate & proceeded to peel it.

“Don’t!” he screamed. “You’re stealing Ganesha’s share!”

“What?! I told you he only blesses the food we offer!”

“He ate the kozhukkatais yesterday, remember?” He asked me. “So, don’t touch!”

And of course by the time he got back from school that day, the fruits had to vanish too.

This is even worse than Santa story, I thought. He’s been insisting that we have a Christmas tree every year for three years now. Since it is all in good cheer, I gladly bought one and decorate it every year. But I’m so not prepared for his letter to Santa.

Last year it was the Beyblades and they were not in stock in the entire universe.

Frantic, I clutched at every lead I got and found some fake Beys from Parrys Corner. Of course he didn’t want them.

Thankfully it was not with the Santa loot.

And later I kept forgetting the Santa bit. When I spoke to him about a toy, I started slipping. “Remember the Spy Game I got you?” I would start. “NO!” He’d say vehemently. “Santa got me that!”

“Oops! I’m sorry!” I’d apologise.

Last week, he wanted me to take to the Toy Shop to get him something. I had no such intentions. “Pray to Ganesha & ask him if I should really take you.” I told him.

“Buy I don’t know how to talk to God!” he wailed.

“Then it’s high time you learnt. ” I told him sternly. “Just stand in front of God and close your eyes and ask him. If you’re silent enough you can hear his answer in your mind.”

So he obediently stood with folded hands, closed his eyes.

After five minutes he came to me. looking very upset. “I just cannot get any answer, Amma! You do it!”

So I stood in front of the puja, closed my eyes & folded my hands in reverence.

Two minutes later, I opened my eyes to see his eager face next to mine. “What did God say, Amma?”

“He is soooo angry with me!” I informed him. “He just told me ‘there are so many poor children in this world with no food and you want to get more and more toys for your son! Ask him not to be so greedy!’ ”

Crest-fallen, my son walked away. Soon it was time to go somewhere. We passed by the Toy shop and a small voice from the back seat spoke.

“I wish God didn’t exist. Then I can do what I want..”

Now I’m more confused than ever…


The Indian Twist – A new beginning

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What started off as an idle dream a few months ago has finally taken shape!

I was just dreaming aloud when I told a friend that I want to start an online gift shop.

Two days later she called to say she’d given serious  thought to what I’d said and wanted to join me.  As usual,I had totally forgotten what I had said!

She reminded me and thanks to the brainstorming sessions I’d had with her, (now my partner in crime!) and all the inputs and reviews from friends and family,  months of chasing carpenters and fabricators, The Indian Twist, an online gift shop is finally a reality.

Designing is the easiest part! Getting them into workable products was the challenge, to put it mildly!

Do check out #mce_temp_url# to view the crazy Indian gifts designed by yours truly and her partner!

And do let me know what you think of the products, where they need to improve, etc.

Feedback is the only way I’ll know if this is indeed a dream worth pursuing!!

A Saturday long ago…

Another Saturday afternoon. Suddenly discovering that he does not have to go back to work after lunch, my husband snaps his fingers. “Let’s go shopping!” He says. “I have nothing to wear these days…”

The store is almost empty. Salesmen fight sleep after lunch.

My husband cannot decide between 2 pairs of trousers and 3 tee shirts. Confused, he decides to try them all & disappears into the changing room, with strict instructions to me, to stay right outside, so he does not have to hunt me down for my opinion, wearing clothes which sprout labels from all sides.

Left to my own devices, I browse through some jazzy shirts.

“Hey! This will look great on you!”

Startled, I turn around.

A middle-aged man, accompanied by two middle-aged ladies. A girl just-into-her-teens gapes. The more flamboyant of the ladies holds up colorful shirt to the man. The quiet one passively watches.

Finally having found something to interest me, I study the small group surreptiously, taking care not to stare.

This is one of the most enjoyable games I indulge myself in, when I have to wait around. People watching. I try to guess who they are, what their relationship is and what can be their story.

This one is curious. Is this is a middle aged couple and their daughter, out shopping with his visiting sister? I look at them closely. No! Absolutely no resemblance. Or maybe it’s her sister. Little chance of that too, since they lack the closeness shared by most sisters.

Or can she be his second wife? Asks a small voice in my head.

No way!

Why not? Persists the voice. It’s not so uncommon in this part of the world for a man to live peacefully with both his wives under one roof. I have even heard of such a threesome sharing the same bedroom, and the rest of the house with a bunch of children from both the wives!

“What do you think?” My husband’s voice breaks into my reverie. He’s in a gray polo neck t-shirt and a black trousers. ‘Smart” I tell him. “But don’t you have the same Tee shirt?”

“No!” he says petulantly. “I never had something like this!” “Okay.” I say placating. He vanishes into the changing room again.

I turn my attention back to the family, but they seem to have drifted off to another part of the store. I busy myself with some formal ties.

I suddenly sense some movement behind me. Two girls walking hand in hand. One of them is extremely shy. An elderly gentleman follows them, authoritatively. Can’t be their father. And the girls, can they be sisters? And what on earth are they doing in the menswear section? And so tongue-tied and shy!

The answer strides in, very self-conscious. A young man follows the older man, shyly glancing at the blushing girl.

A-ha! A just-betrothed couple, trying to choose the wedding suit! No wonder the girl is so shy in front of her father-in-law to be! And the other girl must be her best friend, lending moral support in times of crisis like this! Who wouldn’t be nervous with such an imposing father-in-law!

Just then my husband returns with an armful of clothes.

“Can I just run up to the bookstore? Please?” I ask him. Without waiting for his answer I charge up the stairs.

Browsing through the latest best seller, I spot the curious family in the adjacent coffee shop. Relaxed, they lounge with a cup in their hands. The flamboyant woman is enthusiastically narrating something to the shy one. “…And you must have seen the teacher’s face! This Raghu, your husband was such a terror in our school days!” The girl looks at her father with great wonder.

The ‘terror’, now much tamed, balding and with a paunch is much abashed and embarrassed!

“How silly of me!” I chide myself. To think that she was his second wife! I feel really guilty.

As I reach my husband’s side at the billing counter, he holds two lovely kurtas to me. “Look what I bought you! Saw them and thought it was very ‘you’!

“Oh! They’re beautiful!” I gush. “You’re the best! Thank you!”

I see a movement in the corner of my eye.

A 20 something girl is busy inspecting some men’s’ formal wear, near the men’s changing room. She studies us surreptiously, trying not to stare.

I grab my husband’s arm.

“Let’s get out of here.” I say.

Published in Femina, June 2003 Issue
Long before my son was born and we actually had jobless saturdays!

15 mins nightmare…

I took my son to the Citicentre today. Thought he’ll enjoy the festivities. at 3 and a half, he’s more tuned to Christmas than Diwali. Thanks to Thomas & friends and Bob the Builder, he knows all about Santa, Christmas Tree & Gifts.

Sadly the only thing he knows about Diwali is the fire-crackers. And he’s terrified of them.

Today, he loved the huge Christmas tree in the atrium of Citicentre. But again was terrified to go into the Santa-house. Loved going into Lifestyle even more because of all the toys he can get.

After a while, I was browsing some T-shirts for him. He just announced ‘I’m going’. I assumed he must be going back to the toys, so he can nag me for something else he finds there. About 10 or 15 seconds later, I looked for him and he was nowhere to be seen. I was pretty cool because I knew he’ll be around nearby. But after 10 minutes of searching all the aisles in the kids section, I couldn’t find him. Getting desperate, I started asking every shop assistant I could see. Nobody had seen him. By then I started having visions of him kidnapped or something as bad.

I ran to the counter and was directed to customer care downstairs where they can make an announcement. And two sweet ladies offered to look out for him in case he was still in the first floor. I dashed into the open lift, pressed the button and prayed. Has never been so scared in my life!

The lift door opens and there he is, in the arms of a shop assistant with a mike. They were just going to make an announcement!

Thank God! My first instinct was to slap him across is face to have created so much panic. But then he looked as scared as I was. So I just stopped with a mild scolding session. And when we went upstairs to thank those ladies and let them know he was safe, he said in a small voice, ” sorry amma…”

A friend who was joining us called to say she’ll be there in half hour. “I’m going home,” I told her. When I told her what I’d just been through, her wise advice was “Never tell your husband what happened. You’ll never live it down.”

True. But knowing what a motor-mouth I am, the first thing I’ll say when he walks in would be ” Guess what? I almost lost your son today!”

PS: Tried searching for those ladies, but couldn’t find them.