Hope, Change and Jalebis

It’s been 2 days since the nail-biting finish to months of campaign watching, wringing of hands over reports of voter suppression, elation/relief at the gaffes by Romney and team that slowly revealed the truth about them, anger over republican ideas on “legitimate rape”…and I can’t stop smiling and feeling relieved it’s over, and it’s gone the way of the people.

The last time, in 2008, which was also the first time I voted as a citizen of this great experiment called America, we had spent watching the election night coverage at my friend’s house. A whole bunch of us were there, excited for the historical night. We had some doubts, but were mostly optimistic. This time, though I was alone at home, since Raj was traveling and I was dreading the prospect of watching it alone – the stress was killing me!

So, the new me called some friends over. To make jalebis! I say the new me because I’m discovering myself all over again since we moved from the corn fields and cold winters of Muncie, Indiana to beachy, marshy Florida. And kind of surprised at what I’m finding in me! I had left behind some longstanding friendships__ some true, some dysfunctional but all comfortable__and started anew, not knowing a single soul in Florida. Just like 22 years ago when I got married, moved to the US, then quit my job, got pregnant and moved to Muncie. The difference was, we were just starting our lives together then__raising 2 children, a job, a career and building our future took care of any anxiety about making friends.

But last year was different. Our kids were both in college. It was going to be a clean slate for me again__ but this time, I had no day to day responsibility of kids or a job to keep me occupied. I had to find things to do to make myself from going crazy.  But, I’ve realized over the past year, that people are people, and most are good, normal people just like us. Once I got over the mental block of extending my arm in friendship first, it got easier and easier.

I am now happy to report a small group of friends that I can call for almost anything__be it an illness,  to go to a music concert or  desi movies with,  to go shopping, or to come make jalebis with me on a week night and watch Mr. O getting reelected! And these girls have full time paying jobs, and kids living at home!

Well, they came, and we made jalebis and jangiris! I had the batter ready, one filled the ziploc bags to pipe the batter into hot oil, we all took turns making crazy swirls in the hot oil, and one dipped them in the sugar syrup. My husband kept calling every few seconds announcing the latest electoral vote count. It was better than a bar! Noisy, smoky and full of laughs. We finished just about the minute when Ohio was called for Obama and Karl Rove started unraveling on air. We all sat around the tv, and took a couple of pictures with my cellphone to mark the moment. And I instinctively picked up the phone and dialed my Muncie friend’s number – at whose home we had watched the last election. Then noticed that she had posted on my facebook wall almost at the same time!

There is change in me – we are, after all, organic, and without change, we might as well lay down and die. There is new confidence about my ability to start over and a renewed faith in people. There is hope that I will build friendships that will last a long time. Like the ones I have going on, long distance. Best of all, there is at least four more years of (what I am predicting to be) a historical presidency!

O eating a jalebi! Coincidence? Don’t think so!

Here’s a video of a professional chef making jangiris that we found on Youtube. While ours aren’t this perfect, (it is only our first time), they are GOOD! We celebrated Obama’s reelection with fresh hot jalebis/jangiris!


Conversations With My Daughter

A little background for this conversation:  unless you’ve been living in a cave in the US or you’re living elsewhere in the world, you have by now heard all about Todd Akin’s brillance on rape, forcible rape and how women’s bodies naturally shut down pregnancy in cases of rape.

As aside: I knew an actual living human being who said the same thing – about 20 years ago – needless to say, my respect for him plummeted after that. And another one, actually may have been my boss at the time, who got annoyed with me when I said “just abort” a couple of times during a conversation – I was talking about a COMPUTER PROGRAM that needed to be killed and told me sternly “don’t say just abort”. He was deeply offended that I’d use that term even for a computer program.

My suspicion is that a majority of the republicans including Paul Ryan share some form of this view (life begins at fertilization, let’s get rid of Planned Parenthood, all abortions need to be made illegal even in cases of rape, incest and other such inane ideas), but most are smart enough to not say it. So, I’ve been campaigning hard with my kids to vote this year – they’re both of voting age for the first time in an election year. But to my disappointment, they’ve been been a little apathetic on the subject. It’s been bothering me and Raj. My mind has taken on its usual course of self-flagellation: have I failed as a parent? Are my kids going to be uncaring, uninvolved citizens?

So today I called my daughter, all prepared to give a speech on the importance of voting, especially as a woman. Here’s how it went:

Me: Daughter, have you been following the Todd Akin story? You know about the definition of ..

(of course, I don’t actually address her as “Daughter”)

Daughter (D): Oh it makes me so angry I don’t want to talk about it.

Me: Then here’s why you need to vote. It’s really important considering..

D (Laughing): Of course I’m going to vote. I just say I’m not going to because I know it annoys you…

Me: (speechless): ….