Nine Stages Of Navratri

Amnesia:

As the festival of nine nights celebrating Ma Durga nears, you start to rethink your last year’s resolve to cater the food, which your husband reminds you of, but ignore.

“No, people loved the thayir vadai! Remember everyone asked for it? It’s just one day a year that I cook for a party. I can do it.”

Scope creep:

Your invitee list keeps expanding like a well-made pair of maternity pants, and gets close to a 100. This is just the ones you “evited”, not counting the ones you have been inviting verbally when you meet them in places.

Reality:

It’s two days before your party, the tasks loom ahead. The house is a mess, the gift bags yet to be assembled (you haven’t even decided what you’re going to buy for gifts, and it’s too late to bulk order on alibaba.com). You wonder what you were smoking when you thought you could do it all, and break out in a massive sweat.

Panic:

The day of your party. You have 10 things on the stove, and the husband you sent out to pick up last minute stuff is taking forever! You seriously consider emailing all 100 of your guests that you’re sick with a stomach flu.

Rage:

The poor husband walks in like a lamb to its slaughter and is ambushed immediately. “Why didn’t you talk me out of this foolishness? I can NEVER depend on you!”

Tears:

As you dissolve into tears, husband calms you down, promises no more cooking EVER for any big parties, and helps. He also has the wisdom to not remind you that he, in fact, had advised you against this at the very beginning. Smart man!

Control:

Things get finally under control after your meltdown. The house sparkles, the dolls are beautiful, all the food is ready and you actually have a few minutes before guests start arriving.

Bliss:

Everyone loves the home-cooked food. The thayir vadai is a big hit. The ladies all look lovely in their pattu sarees, and the jewelry.

Resolution:

As the last guests leave, and you renew your resolve: “We are never doing this again. Definitely catering next year.”

Epilogue:

Ladies, how many of you go through this every year? I know I do, but love every minute of it. I love navratri and my interpretation of it as a festival that celebrates women.

All the women I know, whether they keep Kolu/Golu or not, get slightly insane around this time of the year.

If it’s not overcommitting to visiting everyone’s golu, to the extent that cooking for the family goes by the wayside for nine days, it’s taking on more than you can handle like yours truly.

But it’s absolutely worth it to see all the women dressing themselves and their little girls up in their best silk saris and jewelry, visiting each other’s homes in groups for at least 5 of the 9 days if not every day, gorging on the traditional sundal and other snacks, and in general having a blast. The men know better than not to indulge, support and participate only as required – serving and distributing the sundal, and be there to wipe the tears and the sweat!

Now, almost halfway between last year’s when I’ve had enough time to forget, and this year’s Navratri which is too far away, seemed like the perfect time to laugh about it. Because, come September, I know I’ll be busy!

For more information on this beautiful, meaningful festival, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navratri

 

Marina Beach And Kadalai

I am writing this under threats that a certain person who shall be nameless will end our marriage if I publish it.  Because this exposes him in a light his family has never seen him before and his family (for that matter most of my family) thinks he has descended straight from the heavens and his image will be tarnished forever.  And, I’ve gone and invited all his family to read my wonderful blog.

But truth – especially one that is actually funny in retrospect (after 20 years the scars have finally healed and I can truly laugh at it) seeks light and it shall set us free.   Okay okay…enough of the nail-biting, edge of the seat suspense – I’ll come to the story, at the risk of ending my marriage!

Back in the days when Raj and I were newly engaged (we had a loooong engagement period of 8 months) we would, as most couples do in Chennai, go to the Marina beach to hang out.  One of those days, we apparently had selected a spot that was, well, a bit sketchy because Krish Ashok had not blogged about what places to avoid here.

This place we selected turned out to be a hotspot for police raids.  (Do you see where I’m going with this?)

It was dark, a moonlit night…seriously though we were not doing anything that should not be done in public.  (I can sense R cringing – mama and maami, if you’re reading this, don’t say a word to R, just talk to me about it – and save yourselves and R years of therapy.)

Louve Boat

So suddenly there were cops around us – a lady cop for me and a Karate Mani type for R.  We tried explaining to them that we were really engaged, really, wedding invitations have been printed, and both our parents had given their blessings.

Me:  naanga rendu perum kalyanam pannika porom.  Engagement aayidithu (we’re going to get married, we’re engaged).

Lady Cop:  ivannallam nambathey-mma.  Appadithan solluvaanunga.  Apram kazhatti vittuduvaanunga.  Vera enna sonnan?

(don’t trust these scoundrels – they’ll say anything and then will ditch you..  What else did he tell you?)

Me:  illa illa nejamaa enna kalyanam pannikka porar.  Enga appavukku kooda theriyum.

(No no he’s really going to marry.  He promised.  Even my dad knows).

But clearly we were not having an impact.   Back in those days, there were no cell phones (does this date me? oh well) so couldn’t call my parents.  We were taken to the police tasun.  They called my father.  Who was luckily at home, and came to the station with a wedding invitation and confirmed our story.  And they let us go.

Suffice to say, we couldn’t face Marina beach for a long time after this incident.   I was recently reading Krish Ashok’s blog and came across this entry about the sweet spots for lowers in Chennai and it brought back a rush of memories that I HAD TO SHARE with the whole wide internet.  When I told Raj, he was vehemently opposed to it and threatened to end our marriage.  I had to go into the legalities of what the ‘my’ in MY blog means, and really, it is funny in retrospect.

I mean it was really touching – the lady cop convinced R was a no-good romeo just out for a good time, and would discard me like kariveppilai or worse, murungaikai (curry leaf or drumstick, all chewed out) and go marry a rich Andhra girl whose daddy would fund his finance business…oh wait, that’s Kandu Konden Kandu Konden – digressing!

But this was back in 1989.  I cannot believe the attitudes are still not very different 20 years later….guess that’s part of Chennai’s charm!

Molaga Bajji

To read Krish Ashok’s hilarious post, go here:

http://krishashok.wordpress.com/2007/11/12/the-clandestine-lovers-guide-to-chennai/

PS.  If you see me in the ditch at the traffic light near the Keystone Mall, holding up the following sign after R reads this post – please stop and help!

‘ Will blog for food  (vegetarian, preferably S Indian) and shelter’.